OUR VIEW: Local GOP finally has gone over the complete edge

Whew! Crazy politics continues in Ector County with secret trainings and intrigue. Oh, and let’s not forget, if you can’t beat people down with fake social media comments then just call the Odessa Police Department and accuse your political foes of a crime.

The Ector County GOP continues the fight to keep a few local folks in power and has even gone so far as to have a super-secret training session that included making a list of enemies at the local level to sort out fake Christians and RINOS from their hallowed grounds.

Participants got a fancy certificate from Allied Special Intelligence Group, which has a website that promises to educate and train citizens, cops, churches and government leaders on how to “lawfully and legally delay, disrupt, dismantle and remove Communists/Marxists and Terrorists from our communities.”

This week, local fake news sites, which exist to prop up current GOP chair Tisha Crow and “the squad” on our city council, sought to spin the November workshop as an “intense two-day security training” and “training to recognize and identify potential terror threats in the Permian Basin.”

They did this after they were alerted that the Odessa American had folks asking about the super-secret training.

Perhaps they did talk a little bit about the border or terror. But they also created a local enemy list that included some prominent Odessans, who, unlike Crow and her political goons, have actually done amazing things in Odessa.

Donna Kelm

We can’t stress enough how nuts this year’s battle to control the Ector County GOP party is. Odessan Donna Kelm is seeking to unseat longtime incumbent Crow, the ringleader of those who seek to ferret out the secret information of Odessans to wield power around town.

What has happened, in a nutshell, is that a new slate of candidates supporting Kelm is running for precinct chair spots against Crow and her mostly appointed current precinct chairs. It’s a bitter divide with a number of local fake news sites and fake profiles seeking to destroy anyone who steps up to run against the current cabal.

But wait, some of the current cabal members sit on the city council, which is using the city’s official Facebook page to “highlight” the Crows as well as their comrade Jeff Russell and his family, which conveniently includes a daughter-in-law seeking a county commissioners seat that voters four years ago turned ol’ Jeff down for when Don Stringer was elected.

But back to the super-secret crush-your-friends-and-neighbors meeting.

One of those in attendance was Odessan Richard Pierce, who defeated Odessa Mayor Javier Joven two years ago for the local GOP party Precinct 204 chair and is running against him again this year.

The trainers said they were former members of the CIA and FBI and they “believe in weeding out the communists and exposing organizations that may be supporting LGBT groups and people they call RINOS,” Pierce said.

They used PowerPoints to train attendees how to operate as a “clandestine group” and brainstormed how to finance their efforts, Pierce said.

They trained the group how to check social media accounts, websites and other resources without being caught, he said. They also trained them on how to make fake social media accounts.

“They said we would need to go buy a used computer at a pawn shop, use a strong VPN for the computer and to never do any of the work from our own home or our own business. Go to places like Starbucks, Burger King, anyplace that had free WiFi and that way you could do your investigating over the Internet without it being traced back you personally,” Pierce said.

Pierce continued:

“They talked about training on how to be subversive so that they could infiltrate groups and gain trust. The last hour was dedicated to making an enemies list. Instead of listing people or groups that are Communists or Marxists, the list was made up of Republicans who opposed or disagree with the Ector County Republican board.”

Wait, what?

Yep. The group was trained on how to use free WiFi and to use “burner” computers to do deep investigations on their enemies — you know, the people who have been serving our community for years, the people who likely live right next door to you and them.

Ronnie Lewis

There were at least seven people on the list, including Precinct Chair 203 candidate Ronnie Lewis. Lewis has repeatedly called out the current leadership on the sleezy tactics they use on social media to bully others. Late Thursday one of the local fake news sites attacked Lewis again with faked photos of text messages and other nonsense.

“They started putting names on the enemies list of some personal friends,” Pierce said. “I said ‘No, what’s this list? What’s this list for?’”

Pierce said he was told, “‘These are our enemies who are not really Christian Republicans. They’re really RINOS and are not really Christian-like people.’”

We are so glad that Crow and Russell are ferreting out the fake Christians for all of us, all the while spreading misinformation about their fellow Odessans.

At least six other locals were on the list, including “very powerful business men and women in our community,” Pierce said.

There were going to be other meetings, Pierce said, but he’s not been invited to those.

Instead, he’s now being called a RINO and a “trans Republican,” even though he’s voted Republican in every election since Ronald Reagan. By the way, he has no idea what a “trans Republican” is and neither do we.

More of the nasty name calling by Crow.

“I just think it’s imperative that this gets out to the public,” Pierce said. “It’s time for it to come out. I should have done this a month ago or two.”

Why should we believe Pierce?

Because Precinct 110 chair candidate Dallas Kennedy, who says he has friends in both camps, was at the training session, too.

Kennedy initially didn’t want to discuss the super-secret training and said it was a private meeting. However, he later acknowledged the meeting/training took place and he attended. He said the training included how to spot fake profiles and tactics used in campaigns and how to identify Democrats and Republicans.

When pushed about the fake profiles already being used by some of the current local GOP to bully and intimidate Odessans, Kennedy sighed and said he doesn’t know who is behind the brutal attacks being launched by the fake Josiah Vargas and Finnigan Lane profiles on Facebook.

“I honestly don’t know,” Kennedy said while acknowledging how awful some of the attacks have been on social media. “I’m not involved with any of those.”

Kennedy said he thinks the mean stuff comes more from individuals rather than the Ector County GOP as a whole.

Kennedy said he wouldn’t describe what occurred during the training as creating an enemy list. He said it was more like a list of local organizations. “I do remember they were looking at different organizations that may be problems. Basically fighting Democrats and keeping it conservative,” he said.

Pierce also shared a handout he received during the training session. The document, titled “ECRP Intelligence OP Team 2023,” listed Kennedy as the team leader while current local GOP precinct chair candidates Tim Harry, Brandon Pugh and Claudette Webb were listed as “investigators/disruptors.” They are all candidates who support Crow.

View the website of the group that trained the Ector County GOP and encouraged them to make an “enemy list.”

List members

Odessa businessman and philanthropist Kirk Edwards and former Ector County Judge Debi Hays are on the list. So is former Odessa Development Corporation President Tim Edgmon, who was replaced by Tisha Crow’s husband, Kris, last year.

Kirk Edwards

Both Edwards and Hays said they were thrilled to make a list with someone as hardworking as Lewis, who seeks to bring civility back to local politics.

Edwards said the use of the fake social media accounts and the local fake news sites are truly embarrassing for our community.

He said many Odessans were probably unaware of the current leadership’s divisive tactics and Lewis has helped change that.

“I’m proud of him for taking a stand against these people who don’t like criticism for some of the truly horrible management decisions being made in our city,” Edwards said. “I would be honored to be listed as an enemy of what is going on.”

Hays, like Edwards, said she doesn’t mind being on the list.

“If that list has the names on it that I was told, I’m in great company,” Hays said.

As for the group infiltrating their opponents’ camp, Hays said: “That kind of stuff goes on in movies and spy books, but you would never ever think that in a community of less than 200,000 people that a Republican Party group would feel a need to have to do that. That’s very sad to me.”

Debi Hays

She’s tried to figure out what everyone on the list has in common and she’s reached a conclusion.

“We’re all very passionate about our community and our community moving in a forward direction that serves all of the people, making a better life and infrastructure for all of us,” Hays said.

Edgmon reached a similar conclusion, but took it one step further.

“What we all have in common is we want the best thing for Odessa and it’s pretty obvious this group is not the best thing,” Edgmon said.

He said he wasn’t at all surprised to hear about the list.

“There’s really nothing that that group will do that will surprise me at all,” he said, adding that its members are just power hungry.

Edgmon said that thanks to Donna Kelm stepping up he’s convinced there will be enough momentum next November to get Joven, Councilmember Denise Swanner and Councilmember Mark Matta off the city council.

“We need to get at least two of those three and we can take over the council and undo everything that they’ve done,” Edgmon said.

Contacted Thursday, Kelm said even though she is not on the list, she is dismayed one was created. She said the dispute doesn’t make sense as they are all Republicans. She said the local GOP should be supporting everyone who has the nerve to step up and run for office. “I don’t believe in this enemy list stuff,” Kelm said. “That is not good ethics…we are not the mafia.”

She said Kris Crow and Russell crashed an event Tuesday in support of Kelm and the new slate of precinct chairs. She said they claimed they were there to hand out flyers about an upcoming candidate forum, one Kris Crow and Russell apparently scheduled without first checking with any of the opposing candidates.

Kelm said she won’t attend any forum they have. “Why would I?” she asked. “I told them I saw how they brutalized (State Rep.) Brooks Landgraf two years ago and that I would never attend something they were in charge of.”

She said those engaging in brutal and false tactics “have no values and no morals.”

We question their values and morals, as well.

More craziness

Because if you thought the super-secret spy meeting was crazy, you won’t believe this.

The Odessa American is currently awaiting a ruling from the state Attorney General’s office to see if the paper can get the name of the person who texted Odessa Police Chief Mike Gerke to report a suspicious person who was allegedly going into and out of houses.

Where was that person? Well, shoot he was in the neighborhood where Tisha and Kris Crow live.

Whose license plates were on the suspect’s vehicle? Matt Coday’s.

Who is Matt Coday? A constant thorn in the side of the Crow cabal, especially Swanner, who is also running for a precinct chair slot and who happens to be on the Facebook friends list of the fake Josiah Vargas.

And guess what? Swanner was called out last year by Lewis for writing on Facebook that she’d met Vargas and he’d bought her lunch.

Curious, since it is a fake profile. In fact, Swanner and a number of other city council folks are friends with the fake profile and routinely comment on his page.

But back to poor Mr. Coday. He also called Swanner out about the fake profile last year. When he did, she was quoted as questioning if Coday, who has long been in recovery, was “off the wagon.”

Chief Gerke sent officers out to locate Coday and his truck. There are text messages and recordings that back all of this up. When officers weren’t able to find Coday or his truck, they gave him a ring.

It turns out Coday wasn’t even in town that day. Lucky for him.

So who made this false report?

There are a few suspects. Unfortunately, we may never know. We believe that one or more people in high levels of authority at the City do not want the OA to have the name of the person who texted Gerke. In a letter to the AG’s office (perhaps written by controversial City Attorney Dan Jones) the City spun some cute story about the need to protect the texter’s identity, saying they’re a confidential informant.

If not for the fact he wasn’t in town, could Coday have been in some kind of trouble started by a complete lie. All because he has battled with the Crows and their flunkies.

What a shame and a travesty. Someone should be in legal hot water for making that phony request to Gerke and wasting the time of the OPD. And, frankly, Chief Gerke should step up and say who contacted him. He has always been an above-board guy. There is no reason to keep that a secret as even the names of crime victims are public record. Certainly a powerful and possibly elected person does not get to accuse someone of suspicious activity just because they are political enemies.

There was no crime committed. Except for whoever made that phony text to the chief.

So, there you have it. If they can’t spy on you or ruin your life with phony social media posts then they will simply send a quick text to OPD and accuse you of a crime.


Are you sick of it? Get out and vote. The last day to register to vote in the March primary is Monday. The first day of early voting is Feb. 20, and the last day to apply to vote by mail is Feb. 23. The final day of early voting is March 1 and election day is March 6.