One of the most dramatic and profound passages in the Gospels is the scene where the pharisees bring an adulteress to Jesus to test Him. The law commanded them to stone her.
Early in the morning He came again to the temple … The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery … He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more He bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground … Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:1-11)
But wait! This in NOT the story of Cynthia Brehm, newly elected County Chairwoman of the Republican Party of Bexar County, who won a landslide victory (70%) in the run-off election on May 22nd. She committed no sexual offenses worthy of punishment. There are however some Republicans who came unraveled by the results of the election because they didn’t like the outcome and were incensed enough to dredge up whatever dirt they could find on Brehm to reverse the results. They picked up stones and proceeded to murder her, not her person but by character assassination.
Gilbert Garcia of the Express News is at it again with a direct barrage aimed at Cynthia Brehm. But this time he had help from some Republicans. It appears Ms. Patty Gibbons, a local Party activist, provided the grist for Gilbert to fire cheap shots at someone whom Gibbons recently assisted in her campaign. NO, she wasn’t a consultant. She was a disgruntled volunteer who abandoned Brehm after she was told she couldn’t run the campaign. I sent Ms. Gibbons a note asking if she contacted Garcia and the Express News. She has not responded.
Garcia should know that Gibbons does not speak for the Republican Party of Bexar County (RPBC). Mark Dorazio, Chairman is the spokesman and there are party leaders who actually are respected by other party members. According to a number of precinct chairs, members of the RPBC committee, Ms. Gibbons’ is not the voice of the party most members would choose to speak for them.
One Republican committee member wrote after reading her treachery eagerly embraced by Garcia in his broadside, “I don’t think Patty Gibbons has ever represented our party. She represents herself, and her agenda, whatever that may be. She certainly does not represent me. I have sat through many long executive meetings where she held them up with her own contentious, divisive comments, using all kinds of parliamentary tricks. Her run for chair was the same, contentious and divisive. Lots of vicious Facebook comments. I know of chairs that quit attending meetings because of her. She is playing into the Democrats’ hands with her comments”. (Ms. M.)
Another committee member commented, “When I first became a chair (person), I would ask, ‘Who is this disruptive mean lady that argues and holds up our meetings?’ It got worse every year, not better. She needs to be held accountable. This time she has gone too far! She should be sued for slander and defamation of character against Cynthia Brehm.” (Ms. F.)
Brehm’s husband did not escape prosecution. He served one and a half years in military prison. He later appealed the judgment against him for reasons beyond the statute of limitation. Due process was not followed to protect his constitutional rights according to Mrs. Brehm.
Garcia’s statement that Brehm would actually “lead [the] local GOP further to the fringe” is not correct. The fringe is actually inhabited by unhappy malcontents represented by Gibbons and the few friends she has on the committee on one end of the political spectrum and on the other the current small number of witch hunters who were part of the clique who tried to stop the Censure Straus resolution but failed along with former County Chair Robert Stovall who was forced to resign after he botched the executive committee meeting last October with help from his rogue parliamentarian. Stovall badly misjudged the mood and resolve of the majority in the assembly who passed the censure of Speaker Straus after Stovall stepped down to save face. He had announced his re-election for chairman in the summer and ran for retiring State Representative Lamar Smith’s seat and performed badly in the primary. The so called moderate establishmentarians were livid that Brehm won the runoff election and some of them have sharpened their knifes to bring her down.
Current interim Chairman Dorazio explained to me today that the transition to the new county chair is scheduled for June 11th. An officer of the county party, Secretary Deana Abiassi, according to Brehm, contacted her the day after the May 22nd election and told her to resign, threatening to censure her if she didn’t. I called Ms. Abiassi who confirmed that she had spoken to Brehm. I told her that there may be a complaint filed against her which may result in disciplinary action for what she did as an officer. She had no authority to ask the County Chair-elect to resign. Abiassi was strongly opposed to the Straus censure resolution. Gibbons also called Brehm the same day, according to Brehm, to pressure her to resign.
Garcia is puzzled because certain members of “factions” who are few in number and were on opposing sides on the Straus censure are now allies ganging up on Brehm. What he does not factor in are the personalities involved in this witch hunt and mudslinging which has more to do with personal ambition, desire for political power and attention, good old fashioned pharisaism, envy, and apparently a lack of understanding or denial of how Speaker Joe Straus repeatedly violated the principles and platform of the Republican Party of Texas which resulted in his censure by his own county party and the statewide leadership. Read Resolution. The well-worn axiom “Politics makes strange bedfellows” certainly applies in this situation.
Garcia also parroted in his recent article the false argument of Ms. Gibbons that Brehm’s leadership will hurt Republicans in November and “alienate” donors. Nonsense. Brehm has a much better fundraising record than former chairman Stovall and her former opponent’s actual performance in this area is unknown with no actual evidence provided during the runoff campaign. Her experience running for office twice will stand Cynthia in good stead especially after her wildly successful campaign as County Chair.
I spoke with Pastor Art Gonzales of Cornerstone Church today. He told me that some members of his congregation asked him about the Garcia/Gibbons article. He said he was really angered by the witch hunt. “How dare anyone use someone’s personal tragedy for political gain,” he bristled.
“This is a family matter, a private matter. Cynthia handled it well. She safeguarded her daughter and let military justice take its course. She dealt with it as a Christian wife in crisis. In my opinion she is an oath keeper, not an oath breaker. She chose to keep her oath to God and to her husband. Wouldn’t you want an oath keeper on your team taking care of the political business of this party or someone who would take the easy way out and throw away a marriage because of one admittedly terrible mistake?“
Cynthia was as much the victim of this sad affair as was her daughter. Pastor Gonzales agrees. “Cynthia Brehm and her daughter were victims and to insist that she resign her duly elected position with 70% of the vote supporting her simply because she kept her oath re-victimizes her again. It’s an evil thing that they are doing and honestly, tell me how another person’s sin has a bearing on a person’s ability to lead.”
Up pops Gibbons’ name again as a source of the recent Rivard Report article on May 29th. The reporter parrots the false insinuations of Gibbons that there is “mounting pressure” on Brehm to resign and there are “prominent members of the party” joining the witch hunt. The whole tempest in a teapot is orchestrated by a handful of disgruntled individuals enraged that Brehm won a landslide victory and who have their own personal agendas and axes to grind.
Again Gibbons is given central stage to wage her poisonous campaign against Brehm. She says she felt betrayed that Brehm did not disclose this incident (an offense committed by her husband, not Cynthia, almost 20 years ago). Tylden Shaeffer, Republican candidate for District Attorney weighed in and said, according to the reporter, “Republicans can’t allow their message of law and order, economic opportunity and honest, ethical leadership to be sidelined by a party chair embroiled in scandal.”
This response to Shaeffer’s call for resignation was posted on Mr. Manny Giron’s Facebook page (May 30, 2018):
“For Cynthia dealing with a personal matter 20 years ago, as a personal matter, Shaeffer would have every candidate on every level of the ballot cast their stones at her. Shaeffer’s ethic is one that denies redemption and punishes a woman who follows the dictates of her faith. Who in their lack of humanity would seek to punish a woman victimized by her husband, who participated in the legal process against him, and who miraculously found the strength to not only to forgive but also to remain and reconcile with him? The answer, Tylden Shaeffer, the candidate for Bexar County DA.
“So we have the would-be prosecutor sitting in the seat of judge, jury and executioner. He has dared to offer condemnation to the victim of the crime, who has complied with law enforcement and submitted to the counsel of her clergy. He asserts guilt by association and denies a story of redemption. One wonders what Shaeffer would do before Christ as he wrote in the sand words that led the Pharisees to drop their stones? Would he hold a tight grip on his own rock? Would he toss it at the woman? These are fair questions given that he is now impugning a woman who did nothing wrong but trusted God to restore her marriage and bring that same faith and commitment to serve the Republican Party. This raises questions not only about Shaeffer’s leadership within the Bexar County Republican Party, but also about the compassion he will have for women who likewise find themselves the offended party in a crime. Perhaps he should look at the writing in the sand and drop his stone. That might just be an act of real leadership.”
Pastor Art Gonzales had choice words for Gibbons and Shaeffer after reading their comments. “People who take someone’s tragedy which the family overcomes and come along and re-victimize them over again for political gain is absolutely sinful. It’s wrong. That’s Tylden Shaeffer, Patty Gibbons. If God has forgiven, why haven’t you?
He admonished Gibbons, “You weren’t betrayed. You betrayed Cynthia and you did it for your own gain.”
There is another narrative about Brehm’s actions that is false. Critics say she is isolated and uncommunicative. Actually Cynthia sent a letter this week to all the members of the county executive committee. Read the Letter Dear Precinct Chair
Back to Pastor Gonzales: “What I see going on is character assassination for someone else’s sin. It’s guilt by association. Somehow she was party to this, they imply, that she approved of it somehow. Forgiveness of sin does not condone the sin. She did it precisely as the Lord teaches it. I forgive you but I expect you to change. That’s what God says.
“What she did should be celebrated. The only thing they gain is Cynthia’s downfall. What we lose is the respect of this city. Family members who go through this and overcome it are stronger.”
I also have some advice for Ms. Gibbons. If she uses better judgment, behaves maturely and professionally in meetings and social media postings with a healthy portion of civility and Christian charity, perhaps then she will get the attention and respect she deeply craves. She is smart and knowledgeable but she has made herself a pariah with too many members of the party.
While the witch hunt and verbal stoning of Cynthia Brehm are led by a handful of shrill voices, there are outspoken voices defending her. Here is an excerpt from the Friends of SAFA website:
“One has to wonder what type of person would find fault with a woman who lived out her faith commitment to God or use a painful personal trial where Cynthia could be easily characterized as the “victim” as a bat to further beat her 20 years after the fact. But then again, we’ve recently witnessed losers of elections or those on the opposing party’s side of politics try to personally destroy President Trump by referencing his biography instead of focusing on the daily fulfillment of his campaign promises. It truly is a shame that within Bexar County politics the tactics of “fake news” and politics of “personal destruction” are being used by some against our own to subvert the clear will of the people, the support of Cynthia Brehm.” Celebrating Progress in this Tricentennial Year
Mr. Mark Metzger, a precinct chair, wrote a letter to Brehm sharing his feelings about the witch hunt:
“Honestly, why should any of us care one iota or really be concerned for one minute with what your husband, or anyone else you may know, did 20 years ago? As far as I understand you have been put through hell and have endured. That only made you stronger and exhibits your ability to handle fierce controversy. (at a level most will never understand nor be even nearly be able to comprehend).
“My only interest and concern lies in what leadership you will bring to the Bexar GOP and our morally struggling community. This is the target and the big picture. Anything else is merely a cheap distraction from a small group of disenfranchised ingrates (whose tenure has been a disastrous fiasco) who are wasting their time and ours stomping a bunch of old sour grapes while the known fruits of their labor have been and will be nothing less than vinegar.”
Some parting thoughts …
Cynthia’s husband was severely punished for what he did. There was no physical contact with his stepdaughter. The facts are Cynthia’s husband paid his debt to society and his family for his offense. He was imprisoned for a year and a half. At the time, he was a worldly man, a soldier, who could not admit his guilt. Later, according to Cynthia, he accepted our Divine Lord and Savior and admitted his offense.
Throughout this time, Cynthia told me, she stood by the commitment she made at her wedding, that her marriage vow she made before the Lord was sacred. She would not break it despite the betrayal, suffering, and shame the family had to endure. She wanted her friends to know if it became public. The anguish from what she had to suffer many years ago was still palpable.
Cynthia was as much the victim of this sad affair as was her daughter. She protected her daughter and confronted her husband. The family has reconciled and has remained intact because of Cynthia’s strong faith and forgiving heart. She had a wonderful vacation with her daughter last year after the municipal elections and she’s in regular contact with her husband who serves overseas as a civilian contractor with the military. He comes home during the holidays.
If anyone put to the test with the terrible trial she and her family endured nearly 20 years ago came out of it with an intact family, I would say only grace and a tremendous capacity to understand each human being’s fallen nature and capacity to sin grievously would allow the healing and reconciliation.
Coming through that trial with a forgiving heart, riding the storm and not succumbing to the temptation to abandon her marriage is a testament to Cynthia’s strength of character and faith … and she has been rewarded … reconciliation with her daughter and husband; her husband’s repentance, now a church-going disciple of Christ and a marriage tempered in the crucible of tremendous suffering and anguish but ultimately blessed by the fruits of redemption, repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.