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Former Jeff Gannon publisher running for Vice Chair of Texas GOP

Ron Brynaert

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Bobby EberleThe GOP operative and conservative website owner who hired a onetime prostitute to cover the White House has decided to run for the vice chairmanship of the Republican Party of Texas, RAW STORY has learned.

Jeff Gannon, a $200-an-hour gay male escort, resigned from Eberle’s Talon News last February after pictures and stories emerged which revealed that he once toiled as a gay male prostitute. Eberle shut down the news site shortly thereafter, although his satellite Website GOPUSA.com remains active.

The little known "news organization" first attracted attention after Media Matters reported that a softball question Gannon asked of President Bush at a press conference had been lifted from a skit aired on Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

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It later emerged that Gannon had attended scores of White House press briefings, often providing the White House press secretary an easy out amid heated grilling from the press. It also surfaced that Gannon had used a pseudonym while posing as a reporter – his real name was James D. Guckert.

Bloggers also discovered that Eberle once interviewed Bush adviser Karl Rove, which could explain how he was able to a get a veteran male escort past the Secret Service. RAW STORY revealed that Gannon made more than 200 visits to the White House during his tenure as a Talon News correspondent.

Word of Eberle’s candidacy first broke on December 9 in the Big Tex Gossip, Rumors and B.S. section of the Austin-based Texas Insider:

Conservative activist and GOPUSA Chairman Bobby Eberle is expected to announce his candidacy for Vice Chairman of the Republican Party of Texas at Saturday's State Republican Executive Committee Meeting in Austin. He has been lining up support across the state, and hopes to bring his vast experience in technology and issues advocacy to the state party.

After "Propagannon" erupted, many Texas Republicans claimed that they never heard of Bobby Eberle even though he had a long history of activism for the party and many GOP operatives worked (or volunteered) alongside him at GOPUSA.com.

From a biography of Eberle that was scrubbed from the Web:

Bobby's activities within the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) include serving as a delegate to the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. Bobby also served as a delegate to the Senate District 13 Convention in 1996, 1998, and 2000, and as a delegate to the Republican Party of Texas State Convention in 1996, 1998, and 2000... In 2000, Bobby served... as the Program Chairman for the 2000 Republican Party of Texas State Convention. Bobby also served on the Republican Party of Texas Education and Training Committee from 1998-2000. In 1999, Bobby was recognized with a unanimously approved resolution of commendation by the Republican Party of Texas for service and dedication to the Republican cause.

From Eberle’s currently viewable biography on GOPUSA.com:

In 1998, Bobby was selected as one of only 96 people in Texas to serve on the Board of Directors of the Texas Lyceum Association. This organization, which has included in its membership such notable Texas leaders as President George W. Bush, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Governor Rick Perry, is comprised of political and civic leaders under the age of forty.

Despite Eberle’s alleged extensive connections, the New York Times reported that "Texas Republicans said he was not well known in the party" and the Houston Chronicle had difficulties getting "[s]everal local Republican elected officials" to return phone calls when they profiled him after the Gannon scandal. Sherry Sylvester, a spokeswoman for the Texas Republican Party at the time, told the Chronicle, "I’m not going to comment because I don’t know him, and nobody here does."

In that same Chronicle story, Eberle hinted that he might run for public office "some day down the line."

One Texas Republican, Chris Elan blogged on Eberle’s chances to become Vice Chairman:

I guess if you were to place odds, Eberle would be the favorite based on how many man hours he has spent working for the GOP. I'm sure we'll start seeing his slick glossy mailers early in 2006. The race is a name ID position. So he better build it up, or risk some bigger name coming in and taking it away from him.

Elan interned for Congressman Tom DeLay while in high school and is also the Vice President for his father’s political resource firm, Campaign Resources, which lists DeLay as an erstwhile client.

Eberle has already launched a website touting his candidacy. Oddly enough, it was registered on Feb. 7, 2005, one day before Jeff Gannon resigned from Talon News. It’s unclear when the site went live.

The state party election will take place at the Texas Republican convention to be held at the San Antonio Convention Center June 2-3, 2006. So far, Eberle only has two declared opponents.

RAW STORY’s Jason Leopold recently noted that a Jan. 22 subpoena in the CIA leak investigation "asked for administration contacts with 25 journalists" including Gannon. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's interest most probably stems from a multi-part interview with former Ambassador Joe Wilson that Gannon conducted for Talon News sometime in October 2003. Gannon cited an "internal government memo" which said that Wilson's wife "suggested" he take a trip to Niger to investigate claims that Iraq purchased uranium for WMD purposes, but his wording of the question mirrors nearly exactly a passage from a Wall Street Journal article.

Originally published on Thursday December 22, 2005



 


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