When news broke yesterday that the Mike Toomey, a lobbyist and Perry’s former chief of staff, had paid a student $12,000 to collect signatures for the Green Party’s ballot effort, I wondered who the person was.
Turns out I already knew him. Garrett Mize was one of the eager, yellow-clad protesters who have gathered in front State Board of Education meetings. He co-organized the lefty efforts of Save Our History, which showed up in full force last month to protest the SBOE curriculum standards. On his Facebook page, Mize writes that he is the youth advocacy coordinator for the Texas Freedom Network, a group that describe themselves as a mainstream voice “to counter the religious right.”
In case that doesn’t clear up his ideology, on his Twitter bio, Mize writes “My name is Garrett. I’m a liberal Texas Democrat.” (In fact, he’s at the Democratic Convention, manning the Texas Freedom Network booth, but declined to comment for this post.)
According to the Statesman, Mize worked with Toomey for about six months, getting paid $2,000 each month, hooked up by family friend and former Republican consultant Stuart Moss. In April, Mize quit out of concern that Toomey wasn’t focused on the best interests of the Green Party.
But Mize isn’t new to politics. Among his Facebook friends are prominent Democrats like Travis County Party Chair Andy Brown and state Rep. Mark Strama. Michael Hurta, president of the University of Texas Democrats, says Mize attended almost all of the group meetings last semester, when his testimony says he was also working for Toomey.
“He was everywhere” on campus, Hurta says, doing work for Save Our History. “I never saw him doing anything with [the Green Party].”
On his personal website, Mize does say his “major passions in life often concern the protection and preservation of the environment.”
“He’s a very well-intentioned person,” Hurta says of Mize.
Whenever I’ve talked to Mize in the past, he’s sounded like another earnest and eager college student, and he just graduated in May. People change their views frequently as they grow up and learn more.
But still, it’s a little weird.