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POLITICAL IN E LICENCE Oh, for God’s Sake NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS What would Jesus censor? Apparently The New York Times, if you believe Mendell Morgan Jr., director of library services at University of the Incarnate Word Antonio. Last month Morgan, who has held his post for 31 years, decided ex cathedra to cancel the library’s subscription to the Times as his personal protest against the paper’s reports on government surveillance of international financial transactions. After the media exposed Morgan’s breach of academic and constitutional freedom, he reinstated the subscription the next day, stating in a news conference that he thought his action was appropriate, but regretted not conferring with library staff. The San Antonio Express-News published an e-mail sent June 29 from Morgan to library staffers that read in part: “Since no one elected the New York Times to determine national security policy, the only action I know to register protest for their irresponsible of their operations by canceling our subscription as many others are doing.” Curiously, Morgan did not ax the Wall Street Journal even though the conservative daily published a similar article the same day as the Times. Morgan is a member of the Texas sion includes supporting intellectual freedom. “We are very concerned that any action taken can limit access to information,” said Gloria Meraz, TLA director of communications, about the incident. Meraz said she was not aware of another library that had canceled a Times subscription on political grounds. The UIW administration said in a prepared statement that while it supports the First Amendment, it was within Morgan’s purview to remove the newspaper. That reaction is not surprising, considering the school’s right-wing reputation. The UIW science hall is named after Bush disciple U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla, Republican of San Antonio. Since 2000, UIW President Louis Agnese and wife Mickey have contributed $16,000 to Bonilla, $5,000 to Sen. John Cornyn, and $2,000 to President Bush, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The UIW Library was partially funded by a $1.2 million gift from the J.E. and L.E. Mabee Foundation. Two of its directors, Joe Mabee and Guy Mabee, oil and gas men from Midland, are also major Republican contributors. When the Observer asked Joe Mabee about the library controversy, he said he had no comment, then asked, referring to Morgan’s initial decision to cancel the Times subscription, “What’s the problem with that?” IS TAB OFF THE HOOK? A state district judge has dealt a severe blow to the prosecution of the Texas Association of Business for its use of corporate-funded mailers in the 2002 election \(yes, it’s still with us four years Observer readers will remember, TAB influenced about two dozen competitive state House races in 2002 with underhanded campaign mailers supporting certain Republican candidates. The $1.9 million effort was secretly funded by corporations, and TABthe state’s largest business group, which is dominated by insurance companies refused to say who paid for the mailers \(we later learned that, for the most part, insurance companies had taken care of part of the larger effort by former Congressman Tom DeLay and his Texans for a Republican Majority PAC to takeover the Texas House [see “Rise of the Machine,” August 29, 2003]. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has been trying to prosecute TAB \(separate from his indictments of DeLay Texas law forbids the use of corporate and union money in campaigns. Earle’s case against TAB was based on the argument that the group’s mailer campaign amounted to illegal corporate-funded electioneering. The TAB long has argued that the ads were legal because they didn’t “expressly advocate” the election or defeat of a certain candidate \(none of the mailers used such overt terms as “vote for,” “defeat,” ation contends, the mailers were simply educational pieces \(and constitutionally be paid for with corporate money. State District Judge Mike Lynch seemed to agree. In late June, he tossed out the central felony charge that TAB had violated Texas’ ban on corporate money. He termed the case a “perplexing mess”and anyone who’s looked at the law and the specifics of the case might be inclined to agree. “[T]wo core principles of our democratic system are in direct contention with one another [in the case]: a fair and open democratic electoral process versus the constitutional guarantee of free speech,” Lynch wrote. He went on to note that the mailers “engage in what most nontechnical, common-sense people \(i.e., support for specific candidates.” But he concluded that, under the letter of the law at the time, the mailers “consist of political ads that severely test, but do not cross, the line of express advocacy [for a candidate] as that term was defined by the courts at the time.” Earle and campaign watchdog groups have argued that TAB’s efforts must be punished to prevent opening the election process to all kinds of secret, corporate-funded campaigns. Lynch didn’t argue that point, but observed that “these statutes and this indictment aren’t equipped to do the job [of keeping corporate money out of elections]. You simply cannot make a silk purse out 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 14, 2006