Friday, May 5, 2017


By Juan Montoya
After we posted the fact that the Cameron County Elections Dept. reported that there had been 263 mail-in ballots requested for the City of Brownsville elections and that 186 had been received as of Thursday, we began to inquire of the candidates if they were using politiqueros to harvest the mail-in vote.

Ben Neece, William Garza and Erasmo Castro said no.
Image result for phil cowen, brownsvilleThat left only Rose Gowen, John Villarreal and Joel Mungia. We tried to contact them without success. So then we went to the usual suspects and asked them. Is someone paying you to harvest mail-in votes?

Herminia Becerra said no. Margarita Ozuna also denied they were working the mail-ins. Joey Garza said no as did Ralph Elizondo. Ozuna, Garza and Elizondo have been indicted and tried for mail-in votes violations and have been convicted. All have gone through the court system and paid for their violations. Becerra, an octogenarian, no longer gets around like she used to.

The someone said we should try Phil Cowen. "Cowen?", we asked. "The trustee with the Brownsville Independent School District?"
"Yeah, that's your guy," we were assured.

Cowen has made it no secret in social media that he is supporting Rose Gowen and John Villarreal.
 Villarreal is the District 4 incumbent and Gowen is the At-Large "B" commissioner. Bothe are said to have been helped on the mail-in ballot front in this election by Cowen, who ran in the Nov. 8, 2015, Brownsville Independent School District race barely eking out a win against Herman Otis Powers 9,323 to 9,178, a 145-vote difference.

But it was the mail-in vote that they received – 364 for Cowen and 265 for Powers – that raised eyebrows. Although Cowen beat Powers handily in the early voting – 6,632 to 6,189 – a 433-vote difference, the fact that both men could garner 629 mail-in votes for a school district race raised red flags with many observers.

"Obviously, they both worked the mail-in politiquera votes," said a local political activist. "And we know that that system has been manipulated many times by local politicians to swing elections."

If anyone knows about politiqueros and politiqueras it is the Cowen family. Both Phil and Ralph Cowen – a commissioner at the Brownsville Navigation District – have been weaned in local politics at various levels. And like all local politicians who have run in local races in the past, they all know that one of the features of the system is the paid politiqueros who harvest votes of the elderly and those who attend adult day-care centers.

However, South Texas, Cameron County and Brownsville are not your grandma's political arenas anymore. After the crackdown on politiqueras by the Texas Attorney General's Office and the Texas Rangers, many have become gun shy about dealing with mail-in votes.

"Principally, it has been through the work of local activist groups who have refined their scrutiny of mail-vote violations and assisted the state authorities that has slowed the practice," said one. "But now it will be up to poll watchers to see if they can spot patterns of behavior to determine if something is amiss."


Anonymous said...

Yes, he is. So?

Anonymous said...

Fake news, until you prove he is doing that, this article will have validity otherwise is just a bunch of lies.