An Open Letter to Clayton "C.P." Henry

Griffith campaign manager launches into profanity-laced tirade

[Folks, were it not for the fact that this involved Gary Griffith's paid campaign manager, you wouldn't be reading this online. But I feel the circumstances, along with the guy's position, probably warrant a public response.]

First, let me introduce everyone to Clayton "C.P." Henry.

C.P. is a local political consultant and print media guy. He owns a print shop and has worked for some of the biggest politicos who have ever faced election in Dallas--and his resume and track record is rather impressive.

He's a "hired gun" so he gets paid for his services. At around $4,000 to $5,000 a month as a campaign manager, he's not cheap--but he's a bargain.

I don't think I've ever seen C.P. in a tie which has led me to occasionally jokingly note that "C.P. is Garland's version of Rob Allyn (the high-dollar, high-profile, immaculately-dressed, Highland Parkish, Porche-driving campaign expert who has "made" many a politician--nice guy, too, by the way)."

But sometimes, many times if not most times, "Garland" can be just as effective as "Highland Park."

On the campaign trail, C.P. is a ruthless, grass-roots-building adversary that few politicians "on the other side" survive. C.P. decimated Roxan Staff, four years ago in her bid for city council--and it caught everyone completely by surprise. He's played roles in Pete Sessions' success, and has been around the edges of countless other successful campaigns.

On the personal side, I've held a certain amount of respect for C.P.

I've always thought of him as somewhat of a rather large, jolly guy--a Santa Claus without the beard. He's fun to chat with, and I always get a kick out of watching his expressions when his candidate is doing well.

Saturday night, however, another side of him came out--a side I'd never seen before.

C.P. was hired by Gary Griffith as Griffith's campaign manager. Griffith, as anyone who followed the mayors race knows, didn't do so well.

C.P, and his wife wound up at a different "watch party" (different candidate) with me later that evening. We'd both been talking to and congratulating this particular candidate; a tremendously nice guy who I have come to know, respect and greatly admire over the past weeks.

We all chatted for a few minutes, and were discussing some politic'ish details, when most everyone else walked to another room.

"You're disgusting," C.P. started out.

At first I thought he was joking around but it quickly became clear he wasn't. And, as his wife tried to calm him, the tirade continued.

"You're a miserable excuse for a person [...] you're a liar [...] you're a pr**k [...] and you're not a tenth the person Gary Griffith is [...] he's [Griffith is] extremely honest [...]."

My jaw dropped.

When it became apparent I wasn't going to get a rational word in "edge-wise," and I was sensing a strong possibility I was going to get hit (I don't like to bleed in someone else's house--and this was shaping up to be a "bleeding profusely" sort of event), I decided to bring my portion of Saturday evening to a close.

I gave the host a parting handshake and made a hasty departure.

As I drove home, and for awhile after I got home, I thought about C.P.'s words and decided this chapter wasn't quite closed. After considering the circumstances and C.P.'s paid campaign leadership position, I thought it would be appropriate to share my letter publicly.

To: Clayton P. Henry


Now it's my turn.

Usually, after someone loses an election--especially someone who was elected and served my family and me, I like to write something nice about them and thank them for their service (as, for example, was the case with Lois Parrott ).

I like to think that even when people don't see eye-to-eye, when we question a candidate, or air opinions--especially when our opinions don't seem to be unreasonable--when the campaign is over, it's over.

It is painfully clear to me that you're aware of my concerns with some of the things your candidate's material put forth--and some of the things that occurred during the campaign.

But not once, and I repeat, not once did you (or he) bother to address the issues.

For instance, when I brought up seemingly simple questions about how the mayor of Dallas was going to give principals the authority to hire-and-fire teachers (as claimed in a mailer--I still have a copy in case you've lost yours), you didn't respond.

I went to pains to try and confirm the claim that his "aggressive plan to reduce crime resulted in a 45% decrease in crime in [his] district alone." I placed Wick Allison's comments supporting his claim in the article , along with posting numerous others, who seemed to echo the support.

I spent several unsuccessful hours researching his claim, myself, to try and support it.

But you, and he, were silent.

Now I'll freely admit that neither you, nor he, nor anyone else is under any obligation whatsoever to justify anything to me. Accordingly, I'm under no obligation to accept any campaign claim made as "the gospel truth" just because someone says it.

Speaking of honesty and the school board, let's talk about the emails that bounced back and forth between your candidate, our new school board member, and me. Cutting to the chase: after discouraging her from running, why did he write me a letter telling me he was having "no luck so far" getting her to run?

This, C.P., doesn't fall into my category of "a little white lie to keep from hurting someone's feelings."

He could have simply written me back and said, "you know what, Allen, I think I'm going to stay out of this one" or, "you know, Allen, after talking to her, I think it's better to stick with her opponent."

I don't know what qualifies as "truth" and "honesty" in your book, but that just doesn't seem to fit either of those categories in mine. Maybe I "just don't get it."

With respect to everything else over the course of the campaign, they could have been his words, or your words, or someone else's words--but they were attributed to him.

And instead of simply answering questions, you chose to wait until last night to unleash a tirade that destroyed a nice evening--an evening where I was looking for an opportunity to make amends with another person I've taken issue with in the past.

Instead of letting this be a day for me to thank my council member for his service, and let your candidate get on with his life, you chose perpetuation.

You chose foul-mouthedness over closure. You really told me off. You really put me in my place.

Allen Gwinn