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In 2002, the Texas State Board of Education considered passing a non-binding resolution to urge schools to ban Channel One from their campuses. Liberal opponents of in-school, commercial television included Texans for Public Justice and Commercial Alert, an Oregon-based Naderite group that opposes commercial exploitation of children. Conservative opponents of Channel One included Alabama-based Obligation, Inc., which mirrors Commercial Alert’s agenda, and the Texas Eagle Forum. All of these groups objected to public schools using teaching time to expose captive children to ads, especially those promoting junk food or violent films. To make this case, Birminghambased Obligation, Inc., showed the conservative-dominated board a sampling of Channel One’s own ads. Channel One responded by flying CEO Jim Ritts, a University of Texas alum, to Austin to help local company lobbyist Demetrius McDaniel of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. These Channel One representatives, neither of whom responded to requests for comment, had their own video that included an apparent endorsement of the company by First Lady Laura Bush. In the end, the board dropped the resolution against Channel One and passed a weak substitute that urged PTA types to educate themselves about marketing in schools. There is evidence that Ralph Reed contributed to this Channel One lobbying coup behind the scenes. A brief Austin American -Statesman article in September 2002 reported that Channel One postponed a vote on the resolution thanks to “an impromptu lobbying effort by Channel One Communicationsincluding phone calls from Ralph Reed.” Indeed, Channel One critic Gary Ruskin, of Commercial Alert, continues to blame Reed’s lobbying for ensuring that, “Texas school children are still forced to watch ads for junk food, violent entertainment and movies that portray smoking.” When the Channel One resolution came before the board, 10 of its 15 members had at least one thing in common with Ralph Reed: a Republican Party affiliation. One Republican the Observer that he was present when then-board member “He said it was Ralph Reed calling on behalf of Channel One,” and he was somewhat surprised, Montgomery recalls. Montgomery added that he does not think Reed’s intervention influenced the board’s vote on the resolution. Untermeyer is now the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar. Another board member, David Bradley of Beaumont, declined to say if Reed had contacted him, telling the Observer, “I cannot help you.” Asked if this meant that Reed never contacted him, Bradley repeated, “Sir, I cannot help you.” Six of the 10 GOP members who sat on the board in 2002 said that Ralph Reed never contacted them \(Don McLeroy, Dan Montgomery, Grace Shore, Judy Strickland, Cynthia and current board Chair Geraldine Miller did not return repeated requests for comment. Former GOP board member Richard Neill could not be located. Several Republicans who sat on the board at that time expressed disappointment with Reed’s involvement. “I always really liked Ralph Reed,” said Texas Eagle Forum activist Judy Strickland, who, as a state school board member in 2002, sponsored the failed Channel One resolution. “But when people use our children for their gainsmonetarily or otherwisethey need to be called on the carpet.” “I am surprised that the Christian Coalition would support that kind of endeavor [Channel One],” added board member Cynthia Thornton. “There was programming [on Channel One] that I wouldn’t allow in my classroom.” Reed appears to have engaged in just the kind of paid, direct contact with public officials that drives Texas’ lobbyregistration law. In fact, Reed long has prided himself on his ninja stealth. “I want to be invisible,” he told Norfolk’s Virginian -Pilot as the leader of the Christian Coalition in 1991. “I do guerrilla warfare. I paint my face and travel at night. You don’t know it’s over until you’re in a body bag.” When it comes to lobbying, Reed has mastered stealth. The state ethics commission websites in Texas and Georgia, where Reed’s Century Strategies lobby shop is based, list no lobby registrations for this operative. The only federal lobby registration listed for Reed is as a Christian Coalition lobbyist in 1998. Conservative Channel One critic Jim Metrock of Obligation, Inc., said that Reed resorted to covert tactics in Alabama in 1999, when a Primedia front group popped up that ultimately was traced back to Reed. This so-called Coalition to Protect Children churned out advertisements in a failed effort to stop U.S. Senator Richard Shelby \(RChristian Coalition in Alabama,” Metrock said. “People really believed in him.” Reed’s policy work in Texas assumed greater significance this past January 3, when Abramoff pled guilty to three felonies in a plea bargain with federal prosecutors investigating a vast web of political corruption. At the time of the Texas Channel One vote in 2002, Abramoff’s Greenberg Traurig was Primedia’s top federal lobby firm, billing Primedia and a subsidiary $380,000 that year. Other Greenberg Traurig lobbyists on the Primedia account included Tony Rudy and Neil Volz, who previously worked for two of Abramoff’s closest congressional cronies: Texas Rep. Tom DeLay and Ohio Rep. Bob Ney, respectively. Rudy and Volz figure prominently in the Abramoff indictment. Abramoff alleges in his plea deal that soon after he hired Rep. Ney’s aide Neil Volz, Volz contacted his old boss to help one of Abramoff’s clients land a lucrative federal telecommunications contract. The indictment alleges that this action violated a revolving-door law that bars certain federal officials from lobbying their old offices for one year. Abramoff also told prosecutors that he paid the wife of then-DeLay aide Tony Rudy $50,000 as a reward for Rudy using DeLay’s office to help Abramoff kill legislation. The Washington Post reported last fall, for example, that Rudy 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 27, 2006