Worthy of a novel, find out the reasons an under-the-radar U.S. Congressman from Texas is called Slippery Jack. Leaving behind a job as a personal injury lawyer for a life in Washington, DC, John Ratcliffe now represents Texas' 4th District which includes Rockwall, Texarkana, Sulphur Springs & Paris.
Meet the slipperiest Ark-La-Tex politician you've never heard of - Opinion
But there is a relatively new local politician with a wide smile (but without much of Clinton's enviable 1990s charm) who may have come closest in his ability to maneuver in and out of difficult situations as the man who many people in our area somewhat affectionately (and many not-so-affectionately) call "Slick Willy." But most people - even many of his own constituents - have never heard of this politician, and he barely registers any search traffic at all on Google according to monthly keyword statistics. He is personal injury lawyer John Lee Ratcliffe, who - if his election, first term in Congress and recent re-election campaign are anything to go by - should be called "Slippery Jack."
The nickname Slippery Jack is fitting. Besides the fact that "Jack" is the most common nickname for someone named "John," the congressman has been a slip-and-fall attorney since the 1980s, according to the legal website Justia. And, most importantly, Ratcliffe has proven to be surprisingly adept at wiggling out of any and every potential controversy that comes his way without registering almost any negative press attention.
So here are "The 10 Slipperiest Things You Didn't Know About John Ratcliffe." And since we are talking about Slippery Jack, you will find more than 100 clickable links to news articles, videos and other information so you can confirm for yourself just how gosh darn slippery Ratcliffe is. This man might be slippery enough to be the President one day.
1. John Ratcliffe won his seat in Congress by making the age of his World War II veteran opponent the top issue in his campaign - while denying he was doing it.
|Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Source: US House of Rep.|
That's because of the calculated Republican primary campaign waged by John Ratcliffe who cunningly focused almost every issue back to his opponent's age - even though Ratcliffe swore he wasn't doing it. However, even news outlets like the Dallas Observer chided Slippery Jack with the headline "Just Say What You Mean, John Ratcliffe -- Ralph Hall Is Too Old to Be in Congress."
Ratcliffe challenged the then 90-year-old congressman to a grueling schedule of five debates in 30 days, and Ratcliffe even released a campaign commercial where he reminded voters of Hall's exact age just four days after the congressman turned 91 years old. Slippery Jack also constantly discussed his own high-energy level (even campaigning while running a 5k race in Rockwall) which was obviously a strategy to remind voters of Ratcliffe's much older opponent. Slippery Jack also ran campaign ads highlighting what he called a "new generation facing new challenges as a new day dawns." In other words, Ratcliffe wanted voters know they should choose the NEW Ratcliffe versus the very OLD Hall.
As congressman-elect, Ratcliffe, who never served in our nation's Armed Forces, came very close to finally admitting his age-focused campaign against the distinguished World War II veteran in an 11-minute KSST radio interview in Hopkins County a few months after his 2014 primary victory (click here). During the interview, Ratcliffe bragged about the careful "strategy" he used to win the primary campaign against the oldest member ever to serve in the U.S. House - including filing to run for office on the very last day to catch his opponent (Hall) off guard.
Slippery Jack also condescendingly told the same interviewer: "I don't know that they were necessarily prepared to run against someone who had a background the way I did." Contrast that to Ralph Hall's very gracious statement following news of his defeat by the furtive slip-and-fall lawyer. Rep. Hall told the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call: "Since joining the Navy, my life has been dedicated to public service. Other than being a husband, father and grandfather, serving the people of East Texas has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. I congratulate my opponent on a hard fought campaign, and I will continue to keep him and his family in my prayers."
But Ratcliffe has always been steadfast in his head-scratchingly transparent assertion that his 2014 campaign had not focused on Hall's age, insisting to the Texas Tribune: "I haven’t made age an issue in the campaign." Ratcliffe said: "[Hall] wants to stay in Washington for 36 years, and I think that’s anathema to the Constitution." YES, HE DID - Slippery Jack just had to prove he was smarter than all of us Northeast Texans by using the word "anathema" to throw us off the scent of his age-oriented campaign. According to Merriam-Webster, the "simple" definition of anathema is "something or someone that is strongly disliked." There is definitely a joke here, but it's just way too easy.
2. John Ratcliffe has managed to almost completely hide the fact that he is a multi-millionaire personal injury attorney.Very few Northeast Texans have millions of dollars sitting in the bank, but John Ratcliffe does. (Click here to download Slippery Jack's May 12, 2015, handwritten financial disclosure forms). To his credit, Ratcliffe is not trying to hide his financial disclosures and has a whole page dedicated to it on his website.
Of course, Ratcliffe knows that East Texas Republicans do not mind candidates who are successful (even if they have millions in the bank) - but he rightly believes they despise ambulance chasers. That explains the complete lack of mentions in the John Ratcliffe bio of his medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury and car accident business, which accounts for the largest professional period of his life. Moreover, the well-known legal website "Justia" still lists Slippery Jack as a slip-and-fall attorney with 27 years experience - "Since 1989" his biography exclaims on the site.
3. Most voters believe John Ratcliffe was U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas for a significant amount of time because he talks about it CONSTANTLY. But he was really INTERIM U.S. Attorney for a matter of months, and President Bush passed him over for the permanent positionAnyone should be excused for thinking John Ratcliffe was U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas for five, six or even seven years - because he brings it up incessantly while not ever mentioning his many years as a personal injury lawyer. Nevertheless, Ratcliffe was appointed as an Interim U.S. Attorney, and he served from Feb. 2007 until mid-2008. But President George W. Bush awarded the permanent U.S. Attorney job to Becky Gregory, and the Senate confirmed her in April 2008. Ratcliffe later explained to the Dallas Morning News that he didn't really want the permanent appointment because of what he called "timing." Right, Slippery Jack, we all believe you.
Following his months as Interim U.S. Attorney, the Dallas Morning News reported that Ratcliffe started advising "corporations facing government investigations." Leave it to John Ratcliffe to choose an area of law even less popular than personal injury/medical malpractice.
4. Ratcliffe says his biggest accomplishment was arresting "over 300 illegal aliens in a single day." But there was one little detail he left out - and it's a doozy.There's no question - this accomplishment sounds impressive, and Ratcliffe bragged about it to the Dallas Morning News in a story with the headline "John Ratcliffe touts time as U.S. attorney in run against U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall." Indeed, Ratcliffe has traveled around East Texas talking about the raid, which was grandly named "Operation Plymouth Rock." But Slippery Jack's website, radio/TV ads and political mailers purposely fail to mention one of the most important parts of the story: All of the arrests were low-level POULTRY PLANT employees.
Yes, that's right. Slippery Jack's big accomplishment was his part in a larger Justice Department probe that led to the nationwide arrest of 338 hourly, non-management poultry workers within Pilgrim's Pride (which had 55,000 employees at the time). That accomplishment is basically equivalent to finding ants on a picnic blanket.
Since these arrests were made nationwide, Ratcliffe's "signature" accomplishment was apparently garnering a grand total of 45 arrests locally at Mount Pleasant's Pilgrim's Pride poultry center which led to only 38 convictions of the 45 arrests. What's next "Operation Lawnmower Man" targeting the hard-to-find, illegal aliens in the landscaping industry? Or maybe "Operation Brown Shingle" focusing on the under-the-radar illegal aliens in the roofing industry?
5. Almost no one knows that Ratcliffe has little in common with everyday citizens of his Northeast Texas district AND that his small East Texas hometown (where he was mayor) is one of Dallas' wealthiest suburbs where the average home sells for almost $500,000.John Ratcliffe is a Chicago native and spent his formative years there in a large (six children) Roman Catholic family. He attended the very good Notre Dame University (of the movie Rudy fame), and came to Texas to hone his skills as a personal injury attorney at a top Texas law school (SMU).
The other boast of Ratcliffe is that he was a "small-town" mayor of Heath, Texas for several terms. This was a major campaign distinction and "selling point" for Ratcliffe in his race against Hall. Indeed, the image of the candidate as a small-town mayor was absolutely critical to his success in the 2014 Republican primary where he defeated a 17-term sitting congressman. But most 4th District voters had never even heard of Heath, Texas (pop. approximately 7,000 citizens in the 2012 census) or its unpaid mayor. So they wrongly assumed the city was an average, small, East Texas town - not a Dallas suburb.
Make no mistake - Heath, Texas is no ordinary 4th District pin on the map. The town is actually one of the most expensive Dallas area suburbs. For instance, the average home price in the wealthy enclave of Heath was a whopping $463,069 in 2014, according to D Magazine. In 2015, another highly cited source shows the average home in Heath sold for even more - $492,000. Heath, Texas also has almost no minorities of any kind - less than 5% of the population in the 2000 census.
It must also be noted that the political priorities of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex are much different than those in the 4th congressional district, and it's clear that even many of Ratcliffe's most ardent local supporters are unaware of the congressman's dizzying array of ties to the Dallas area. This is especially relevant since some of the most talked about issues in Northeast Texas and the 4th District involve access to water and water rights. Indeed, the Dallas area's attempt to grab (or "steal" as many would argue) water from less populated - but water rich - areas with the proposed Marvin Nichols reservoir, has drawn concern and often outright ridicule from many local 4th District citizens of all political stripes.
6. In his very first act as a member of Congress, John Ratcliffe broke his top campaign promise - within hours of entering Congress. This led conservative groups, Glenn Beck and local critics to point-blank call him a liar.One of Ratcliffe's most slippery moves was brazenly going back on a pledge he signed when he was a long-shot to unseat Ralph Hall in the 2014 race. The conservative Madison Project said John Ratcliffe signed a pledge that clearly stated: "I pledge to vote against the current leadership when the first reasonable opportunity presents itself."
Moreover, Ratcliffe also told Cameron Joseph, a reporter for the largest newspaper on Capitol Hill (called The Hill), that he would vote for someone other than Speaker Boehner in a March 3, 2014 article titled "Ralph Hall Fights For His Political Life (click here)." Ratcliffe was also heard making this promise locally during question and answer sessions in 2014 with local Tea Party and patriot groups where he received much support.
Breaking down the precise language of the pledge the Madison Project said Ratcliffe signed, there is absolutely no doubt that during the start of Congress on January 6, 2015, John Ratcliffe had more than a "reasonable opportunity" to vote against John Boehner for Speaker of the House. At least 29 votes were needed to deny Speaker John Boehner re-election, and a historic 25 members chose not to vote for Boehner, including two subcommittee chairmen and two members of the powerful House Committee on Rules. Clearly, this was a serious challenge to Speaker Boehner.
At the same time, the news service Breitbart proclaimed that Ratcliffe was one of the five "forked tongue" freshmen. And ten months after the vote for Speaker, a still furious Glenn Beck lashed out at Slippery Jack on his radio show and yelled "John Ratcliffe LIED" in October 2015. (Click here for the Beck audio at time 3:44 in the Soundcloud box).
Even though there was a barrage of bad press against Ratcliffe within the conservative Capitol Hill and Washington, DC political press, almost no local sources covered it. Slippery Jack was just too slippery. In addition, it has to be mentioned that before the vote, House leadership had given Ratcliffe a subcommittee chairmanship (Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies) and a spot on the powerful Homeland Security Committee - leading some critics to hint at an under-the-table deal between Boehner/House leadership and Ratcliffe. Interestingly, a YouTube video shows House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy turning around and visibly reacting the moment after Ratcliffe votes for Boehner to be Speaker of the House (click here). This lends credence to the notion that Ratcliffe was indeed a pivotal vote in favor of Boehner to retain the Speaker's gavel on January 6, 2015 - a vote that offered Ratcliffe significant political leverage.
The Madison Project, the conservative political action committee which wrote the pledge Ratcliffe signed, was almost certainly left feeling scammed by Ratcliffe, because the group supported him with money, an endorsement, radio ads (click here to hear one of the ads) and robocalls after he signed the pledge, according to Slate magazine.
7. After local criticism, Ratcliffe brilliantly confused a somewhat angry crowd of Rockwall citizens by giving wildly conflicting and contradictory information about his broken promise on the Boehner vote and revealed a previously secret backroom deal with another congressman.Six days after Ratcliffe's now famous broken campaign promise, Ratcliffe feebly attempted to tie his campaign promise to vote against John Boehner for Speaker to the Speakership campaign of a fellow Texan and neighboring congressman (Rep. Louie Gohmert) when talking to the Rockwall County Men's Club. But Gohmert was never, ever mentioned in Ratcliffe's signed pledge, comments to voters or in the published interview with The Hill.
In an effort to possibly confuse an audience which was clearly agitated with him, the new congressman tried to wiggle out of the uncomfortable situation by insisting that he told Rep. Gohmert he would have voted for him as Speaker if he (Gohmert) had garnered 20 votes by the time his name (Ratcliffe) was called. This would have meant that Slippery Jack was the 21st vote.
But the proof is in the YouTube video which catalogs the live vote at the start of the 114th Congress. This is when Ratcliffe voted for Boehner and broke his signed pledge (Click here - cued to 1:19:40). That's because if you watch the video and then look closely at the alphabetical list of Republican votes against Boehner (click here), you will see that exactly 20 members of Congress had already voted against the Speaker before John Ratcliffe's name was called to vote. So Ratcliffe would have been the 21st vote that would have counted against Speaker Boehner.
Indeed, the appropriately nicknamed Slippery Jack literally defied his signature promise on his first real day as a member of Congress. And he apparently successfully got away with it on a local level - except for a few outraged local Facebook posts at the time. Only some conservative publications have carefully singled out Ratcliffe for ridicule, including The Washington Times and Conservative HQ.
8. Like Bill Clinton's issues with Whitewater and the Rose Law Firm in the 1990s, John Ratcliffe's biggest problem in his contested 2016 Republican primary race involved Apollo Services LLC and the Ashcroft Law Firm - and virtually no local news outlets are talking about it.On his handwritten financial disclosure forms, John Ratcliffe lists his interest in "Apollo Services LLC" as a shareholder. Sounds simple enough, right? --WRONG! With Slippery Jack, nothing is that easy.
But it gets a little more complicated. The consulting firm soon faced a major political firestorm that was not related to homeland security - but was related to political back-scratching. The controversy involved the Ashcroft Group LLC, being awarded a Department of Justice (DOJ) no-bid contract for up to $52 million to monitor the leading maker of hip and knee replacements for 18 months following a deferred prosecution settlement with the DOJ. This contract was apparently one of the biggest ever reported for a federal monitor, and it was given solely at the discretion of a former subordinate of Ashcroft who is a current Republican governor. Ashcroft was even hauled in front of very angry members of Congress to explain the no-bid contract from his friend, boldly declaring "There is not a conflict."
OK, now we can get to Slippery Jack... John Ashcroft is not someone who leaves money on the table, so he also started a law firm where he continued to use the same strategy that proved successful in setting up his consulting firm: hiring insiders. In an almost unprecedented hiring spree in 2009, the Ashcroft Law Firm recruited four former Department of Justice lawyers including U.S. Attorneys: Michael Sullivan, Catherine Hanaway, Johnny Sutton and our own former Interim US Attorney John Ratcliffe (click here to read). As you might expect, the Ashcroft Law Firm represents some clients who seek (and receive) large government contracts and some who face government investigations. U.S. Attorneys are apparently very "respectful" of former U.S. Attorneys, and former top DOJ lawyers obviously have the ability to get meetings with high level officials from the DOJ, Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies (both legal and regulatory).
Importantly, the 2009 press release announcing the hiring of Ratcliffe and the other three former Justice Department lawyers specifically links the Ashcroft Law Firm and the Ashcroft Group LLC - even prominently mentioning its business interests in homeland security. It states: "The Ashcroft Group, LLC and its affiliates advise and invest in companies in the HOMELAND SECURITY and law enforcement marketplaces focusing on areas in public and private markets, particularly in the homeland security, law enforcement and regulatory fields." (click here to read) It should also be noted that all of the four attorneys listed here are directly linked by the website Corporation Wiki (click here) to Apollo Services LLC. This includes Ratcliffe.
However, the entire Ashcroft-related business structure swirling around Slippery Jack is mind-numbingly complex. For instance, the Ashcroft Group LLC is listed as being in the investment portfolio of the similarly named The Ashcroft Group Holdings LLC (a.k.a. TAG Holdings LLC), and the CEO of TAG Holdings LLC, David Ayres, is also the Chairman of Apollo Services LLC. In addition, Apollo's Senior VP (Lauren Webb) and CEO (Susan Johnson) are also both listed among the top five TAG executives on the company website (click here). TAG Holdings LLC also owns 51% of Apollo Services LLC according to Apollo Services LLC's 2015 Texas Franchise Tax form.
But there is no easy way for average voters to learn this. The reason for this is that following the criticism of Apollo Services LLC by the main challenger to Ratcliffe in the Republican primary, the Apollo website was taken down with no explanation to voters sometime after it was last archived Jan. 9, 2016 (see archived site here). Yes, you read that right - the WEBSITE IS GONE. This is especially curious, because the Ashcroft Law Firm LLC and Apollo Services LLC apparently have the same man (Rus Golden) doing the job of Information Technology Officer (click for his public LinkedIn bio). And the two entities even shared an internet protocol address until the law firm changed its IP address on August 11, 2015 (click here for IP address history).
Ratcliffe told a group in Rockwall, Texas that Apollo Services LLC has never done business with any federal agency, so it is unclear why the congressman would be so reluctant to talk about his involvement in a business venture that he says serves "law firms and small businesses." Wouldn't being involved with helping small businesses be positive for a political candidate? It could be that Ratcliffe or other people involved with Apollo Services LLC did not relish having reporters or citizens take a serious look at the plethora of tightly entwined relationships involving many of the same people who have worked with a law firm which has clients with homeland security interests, a holding company that invests in homeland security-related entities and a sitting congressman on the Homeland Security Committee who is a shareholder of an Ashcroft-related company with many of the same principals who are or were involved with each other in legal or business relationships during the last decade.
The list of Apollo Services LLC staff and shareholders reads like a "Who's Who" legal directory - and many (if not all) of its shareholders are former Justice Department employees. These are serious people who should not be happy that the company website in which they are shareholders has gone dark.
For instance, the Chairman of Apollo Services LLC, David Ayres, is the former chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Justice - a massive $22 billion, 112,000 person federal agency. However, it must be noted that Ayres was himself caught up in a legal case relating to the infamous Jack Abramoff bribery and influence-peddling scandal. The Legal Times blog reports that David Ayres and his wife both asserted their Fifth Amendment Right against self-incrimination in the trial of Kevin Ring (click here). Yes, you read that right, the CHAIRMAN OF APOLLO SERVICES LLC TOOK THE FIFTH in a high-profile federal corruption trial.
According to the Legal Times blog, prosecutors alleged that Kevin Ring offered David Ayres and his wife basketball tickets to help secure a $16.3 million Department of Justice grant for a longtime client of Jack Abramoff, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Kevin Ring was found guilty of five of eight charges against him by a federal jury in 2010 and sentenced to prison. No charges were ever brought against the well-connected Ayres or his wife.
Like John Ratcliffe, Jack Abramoff was also given a nickname: "Casino Jack." Surprisingly, no one - not a member of the press or even a Ratcliffe political opponent - has ever made the connection between Slippery Jack and the Casino Jack scandal - until now. And that's worrying.
It is clear in Ayres' biography on the archived website (click here) that Apollo Services LLC is probably more than the simple legal services and small business consultancy alleged by Rep. Ratcliffe. Ayres bio on the archived Apollo Services LLC website says that he "serves as the Chairman of Apollo Services, LLC...and simultaneously acts as the CEO of The Ashcroft Group - a dynamic business consulting firm, co-founded along with former Attorney General John Ashcroft." The Ayres bio continues: "Mr. Ayres sets both organizations' business strategies and determines which companies and industries Apollo Services and The Ashcroft Group are best suited to serve."
There's one more BIG thing here, and, be warned, this sounds even more like a John Grisham novel. Here goes: Catherine Hanaway, who is also involved in Apollo Services LLC (click here for an organizational chart), was one of the four former Justice Department attorneys hired by the Ashcroft Law Firm in 2009 (at the same time as Rep. John Ratcliffe). Hanaway is a former U.S. Attorney who is currently a Republican candidate for Governor of Missouri. And she had been involved in an exceedingly harsh war of words in her gubernatorial campaign with another candidate, Missouri state auditor Tom Schweich.
The fight for the 2016 Republican nomination for Governor of Missouri between Catherine Hanaway and Tom Schweich got heated very early in the race - so tragically heated in fact that state auditor Schweich killed himself (yes, he committed suicide) on Feb. 26, 2015. The Kansas City Star said Schweich was reported to have been worried that former Catherine Hanaway aide John Hancock (who was chair of the state Republican party in Missouri) had started a whispering campaign about Schweich being Jewish (he was actually Episcopalian). In addition, a political action committee ad backing Hanaway had disturbed Tom Schweich because it compared his appearance to the TV character Barney Fife and his face to that of a 'little bug.' Former Missouri U.S. Senator John Danforth, who eulogized his friend Schweich, seemed to call out the Hanaway campaign and others for the bullying of the Missouri state auditor that apparently led to his death. Almost unbelievably, another tragedy followed: Schweich's spokesman Robert "Spence" Jackson also committed suicide about a month after his boss did the same thing.
The Catherine Hanaway/John Ratcliffe connection is especially relevant because Ratcliffe was involved in harshly bullying his main opponent in his 2016 primary re-election campaign. Ratcliffe was apparently miffed that his challenger was discussing the possibility of a conflict of interest involving his membership on the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee due to his business interest in Apollo Services LLC.
Furthermore, some of Ratcliffe's former clients (the ones he represented since being hired by the Ashcroft Law Firm in 2009) have apparently continued to receive government contracts since Slippery Jack joined the Homeland Security Committee. It should be noted that Ratcliffe has rightly said that he cannot personally hand out federal contracts. But one of Ratcliffe's former clients reportedly includes Huntington Ingalls (click here). Less than a year ago, this company received a Homeland Security contract for approximately $500 million (yes, half a billion dollars) to secure the Coast Guard's eighth National Security Cutter (click here).
In light of the extra cozy relationship between the parties outlined above, citizens of Northeast Texas deserve extra reassurance that their congressman is truly looking out for them. This is especially true since Ratcliffe's work on homeland security and cyber security issues (cyber security is now a major focus of The Ashcroft Group LLC) could be seen to more directly benefit John Ratcliffe's post congressional career and his friends/former clients than his largely economically challenged 4th District constituents. Indeed, Forbes reported that spending on cyber security reached $75 billion in 2015 and is estimated to rise more than twofold to $170 billion by 2020. So the congressman would be in a very good position to financially benefit from this in his post-congressional career. Since Slippery Jack has said he would serve no more than 8 years, this means his last U.S. House election would be in - you guessed it - 2020.
9. While constantly insisting in every speech that he was running a positive campaign in 2016, Ratcliffe ran one of the nastiest re-election campaigns in the history of the normally respectful 4th congressional district of Texas - even questioning his opponent's sanity.Now that you have a small snapshot (and that was just the simplified version) of the Apollo Services LLC controversy, some of you might imagine that Slippery Jack would be upset. Well, you would be right. During a candidate forum at the Grayson County Courthouse in Sherman, Texas (with his main opponent present), Ratcliffe took an aggressive stance against his challenger, saying: "He’s notified every newspaper in the district about this and not a single one has written about it because HE'S DELUSIONAL."
|Local news report on the Ratcliffe, Gigliotti dust-up|
source: Sherman Herald Democrat (used with permission)
However, the hard truth is that anyone who mentions the Apollo Services LLC issue and tries to explain it does sound delusional. Just read everything above - if it was a novel, you would think the plot was too far-fetched. That's when you have to remind yourself of the deleted website, the curiously omitted years from 1989 until the mid-2000s when Ratcliffe was at his prime as a slip-and-fall lawyer, the complex interrelated structure of his business dealings, the fact that the Chairman of Apollo Services LLC "took the Fifth" in a federal conspiracy and fraud trial of an associate of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the broken promise about voting against Speaker Boehner, not one but two suicides under extremely unusual circumstances and, of course, Slippery Jack 's previously mentioned history of only telling half-truths (or worse) while leaving out important details.
We had heard rumors that Ratcliffe's campaign was not commenting directly to even simple campaign questions from some reporters after the Apollo Services LLC controversy began. In fact, they were requesting that news outlets submit questions and accept replies ONLY THROUGH EMAIL. That's right, the positive (cough, cough) campaign of Slippery Jack wanted reporters to only submit questions via email. Not sure if this was true, we directly called the phone number on Ratcliffe's campaign website about a week before the primary election and were connected immediately with Cole Moore, Ratcliffe's campaign manager. Sure enough, Moore asked for our questions in writing and said the campaign would respond - by email. Just to make 100% sure, we asked Cole Moore one more time if that was our only option, and he wryly replied: "It seems to work better that way."
So, in reality, it is very likely that at least some local media outlets did ask tough questions and were put off from investigating by Slippery Jack's misinformation campaign against his opponent. Ratcliffe actually slipped up and essentially admitted he had been avoiding questions when he confessed knowing that "every newspaper in the district" had been notified about the Apollo Services LLC controversy when he spoke at the Grayson County Courthouse (click here). Certainly, he could only know this if newspapers actually asked him or his staff about it.
Ratcliffe continued the assault against his opponent with personally delivered robocalls right before the primary which basically hinted that his opponent, Lou Gigliotti, was insane - calling him a conspiracy theorist and once again claiming he was delusional - among other things. The congressman began the call saying that he didn't like robocalls and again falsely maintaining that he was running a positive campaign. The next moment, Ratcliffe immediately begins trashing his Republican primary opponent with withering insults. We have a recorded copy of Ratcliffe's personally delivered verbal thrashing of his opponent, and it is probably the most negative robocall in the history of Northeast Texas politics directly delivered by a Republican incumbent congressman in his own voice against a rival from his own party.
The congressman also unashamedly told his robocall listeners (and direct mail recipients) that "all" of his opponent's allegations against him had been "CERTIFIED 100% FALSE." Ok, did you notice? Slippery Jack does not himself say that "all" the allegations leveled against him are false (which would be an outright lie). He deflects to some mysterious (and probably non-existent) certification official or bureau. Now that's slippery.
|Rep. Ratcliffe delivers a public 'thank you'|
It seems Slippery Jack thinks publicly questioning an opponent's sanity, swearing that his challenger is "beyond delusional," personally delivering robocalls calling his opponent a conspiracy theorist and issuing a major press alert labeling his fellow Republican as "sleazy" for daring to question his troubling involvement with Apollo Services LLC is a positive campaign.
These actions are even more dangerously worrying because the congressman and his campaign were certainly aware of the two recent campaign-related suicides in the state of Missouri that many have blamed on harsh "bullying" by campaign associates of John Ratcliffe's own former co-worker and Apollo Services LLC business associate Catherine Hanaway. But this obviously did not deter John Ratcliffe and his campaign manager Cole Moore. They both personally delivered scathing and nasty personal attacks on the challenger while continuing to falsely insist that the congressman was running a positive campaign.
Nevertheless, Slippery Jack will probably win the general election by default because he currently has no opponent, but there is still time for an independent to run by collecting 500 signatures by June 23, 2016 (click here). So if you know a Texan who is respectable, intelligent and not slippery, you know what to do. An independent candidate cannot have voted in a 2016 party primary, but anyone can be a write-in candidate (click here).
10. Three of John Ratcliffe's closest business associates in Apollo Services LLC are principals in centers that help foreign nationals obtain green cards and eventually CITIZENSHIP by exploiting relaxed standards extended by President Obama through the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program - and no one has apparently noticed it or mentioned it.
Remember the name Michael Sullivan? He's one of the four former Justice Department lawyers hired by the Ashcroft Law Firm in 2009 at the same time as John Ratcliffe and Catherine Hanaway - all of whom are involved in Apollo Services LLC (click here). Just like Ratcliffe and Hanaway, Sullivan also ran for office recently when he sought to replace John Kerry in the U.S. Senate in 2013. However, he didn't win - coming in second in the Republican primary. Of course, you remember John Ashcroft, and it would also be impossible to forget the Chairman of Apollo Services LLC (David Ayres) who "took the Fifth" in the federal trial of an associate of scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff. It is also worth remembering that The Ashcroft Group Holdings LLC owns 51% of Apollo Services LLC.
The trio of Ashcroft, Ayres and Sullivan teamed up as principals on at least two ventures - Ashcroft Sullivan Economic Development Centers (click here) and the similarly named Ashcroft Sullivan & Jha Economic Development Centers (click here). Projects touted by the centers for foreign investment include The Lenmore (Apartment Homes) in Baltimore, MD (click here to download pdf prospectus) and the $20 million New England Sports Village project in Attleboro, Mass (click here to download pdf prospectus).
On the websites of the economic development centers, Ratcliffe's business associates promise a seemingly easy path to green cards and citizenship for foreign investors and their families through the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program (which was created by the Immigration Act in 1990). One of the business websites even has a whimsically titled page dedicated to the "golden apple" they are dangling to lure foreign investment (in this case specifically from India) - calling it "The Road to a Green Card." This is on the Ashcroft Sullivan & Jha website (click here).
What is most troubling about this arrangement is that the Ashcroft Sullivan entities basically seemed to be selling investors a simpler path to the EB-5 visa through its Ashcroft Sullivan USCIS approved Regional Centers to get foreign investment for chosen projects. When the EB-5 program originally began, a foreign national had to invest at least $1 million and create 10 permanent, full-time jobs for American workers. However, the Ashcroft Sullivan centers were exploiting the extension of the Regional Center program (extended for three years by President Obama in September 2012) which relaxed the requirements for foreign investors.
Under this relaxed but perfectly legal scheme supported by President Obama (but derided by many immigration-wary conservative Republicans), foreign nationals and their family members could obtain a green card and later citizenship by investing only $500 thousand dollars (not $1 million) with an Ashcroft Sullivan-related real estate or private equity project in a "Targeted Employment Area" through one of its Regional Centers approved by USCIS. In addition, the relaxed requirements meant that foreign investors would only have to show that they had indirectly created jobs to obtain a green card and eventually citizenship. In fact, the Ashcroft Sullivan centers advertise this fact in no uncertain terms, bluntly telling prospective foreign investors seeking visas and citizenship: "In other words, the immigrant does not need to show he directly employs any workers." (click here).
|USCIS.gov listing of Ashcroft Sullivan centers|
But wait, there's one more important thing to know about USCIS (which administers the EB-5 visa program and must approve the Ashcroft Sullivan Economic Development Centers and projects). Take a wild guess which slippery congressman sits on the House subcommittee that provides oversight for USCIS? Yep, it's John Ratcliffe who is a member of the immigration subcommittee of the larger Judiciary Committee. Even though USCIS is a "component" of the Department of Homeland Security (and Ratcliffe also conveniently sits on this committee), Slippery Jack also managed to wrangle a seat on the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee for Immigration which actually provides oversight for USCIS (click here for a three hour Dec. 9, 2015 USCIS oversight hearing which features Ratcliffe).
All of this leads to dozens of questions on all sorts of topics. But it also makes you wonder whether at least some of the "small business" clients that Ratcliffe says Apollo Services LLC serves are (or were) foreign nationals seeking U.S. visas and citizenship and if Apollo is (or was) involved in providing services for the Ashcroft Sullivan Economic Development Centers or law firms/businesses associated with them.
However, elections for the House of Representatives come quickly (every 24 months), so it's possible Northeast Texans could use the ballot box to say: "Hit the road, Slippery Jack." But after reading "The 10 Slipperiest Things You Didn't Know About John Ratcliffe," you can see that only a fool would count out this under-the-radar, slip-and-fall lawyer and recent congressman who has so diligently continued to reinvent himself while being remarkably successful at concealing important parts of his life and carefully wiggling out of virtually every one of his many controversies. That's why he's called Slippery Jack. © Ark-La-Tex.com
About the author: J. Jones is a graduate of the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism at the University of Arkansas. His articles have appeared in a few hundred newspapers in the United States, including some of the largest newspapers in America (USA Today and the Chicago Sun-Times) and smallest ones while covering state elections as a young reporter. He has been a proud Northeast Texas and Ark-La-Tex resident since his childhood.