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Behind the Tea Party Facade, Just Another Bush-League Republican

Posted on Feb 24, 2010
AP / Pat Sullivan

Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina isn’t likely to win her party’s nomination, but the tea party candidate, who came out of nowhere, has done surprisingly well.

By Yasha Levine and Mark Ames

(Page 2)

On average, Prudentia hauled in roughly $70,000 a year from 2002 through 2009, judging by city records and Medina’s claim that Prudentia collected about half of the outstanding medical bills owed to the EMS.

In 2009, Prudentia made $72,000—a 9.3 percent commission—twice what private billing companies charged in some smaller but more affluent cities. In California, Berkeley paid only 4.5 percent and Manhattan Beach paid only 3.5 percent. On the other side of the U.S., Chelmsford, Mass., paid 4 percent. 

But Prudentia’s exorbitant fees aren’t surprising in the Lone Star state, which has a nasty reputation for habitually overcharging Medicare, according to a recent article in The New Yorker. The medical professionals in Texas regularly overcharge Medicare, surpassing every other state. 

Prudentia’s record of overcharging offers a window into how Lone Star State Medicare queens operate:


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In 2003, just months after Prudential secured its first Wharton contract, Medina appeared before the City Council with a recommendation that the city increase its ambulance transportation fee from $8 to $8.48 per mile, the maximum per-mile charge that Medicare would reimburse. Her reasoning was simple: Wharton could pad its billing to Medicare. The council agreed, and voted unanimously to raise the rate to $8.50 per mile—two cents more per mile than what Medicare pays—increasing costs for everyone except Prudentia Inc., which took in 4 cents more in commission for every single EMS mile it billed. That meant more out-of-pocket cost for Wharton citizens misfortunate enough to require EMS care, and more bleeding of American taxpayers stuck with picking up the Medicare expenses.

Are you starting to get the picture of what this Tea Bag Revolution is going to look like in reality? 

Celebrity libertarian Ron Paul, who in 2009 gushed about Medina and endorsed her bid for governor, thinks she’s upholding the small-government ideal: “As chairman of the Wharton County Republican Party, she has stood up to the big government establishment and fought to hold our party accountable to our platform and our conservative Texas values.” Further down in the endorsement text, Rep. Paul said, “Debra is a true success story and role model for Texans across our state.”

She’s certainly a model Bush Republican: Force all the suckers who vote for you to “compete” in the brutal free market, while laughing all the way to the federally funded bank. No wonder Medina is against health care reform: that would mean messing with her cash cow. 

And that’s not all. Reports that Medina used campaign funds to buy clothes for herself further demonstrate her hypocrisy. She may have also misrepresented her ethnicity. According to voting registration records that we obtained, in 1991 Medina, born Debra Carolyn Parker (her last name comes from husband Noe), listed her race as “Hispanic.”

A year ago, on the eve of the first tea party protest, we were the first to debunk the movement as a fake grass-roots “astroturf” campaign, and expose its rich Republican sponsors, Freedomworks. Our article caused considerable controversy, as well as a coordinated smear campaign and a lawsuit threat against the article’s publisher, but finally Freedomworks admitted its role in setting up the campaign, and we were proved right. Ultimately, this astroturf movement evolved into a kind of “grass-roots” popular movement that is today as overestimated by the clueless media as it was underestimated last spring when it first began. What Medina’s candidacy proves is that the tea party movement has gone full circle, right back to what its rich sponsors paid it to be: talking the tough libertarian talk, while walking the same old corrupt big-government Republican walk.


So far, we have not received comment from Medina’s campaign. After repeated attempts, we finally succeeded in sending these questions by e-mail to Medina’s campaign assistant, Gwen Walton:

1. Ms Medina says she is opposed to federal government “interference” in the free markets and health care in particular, saying, “Your government has to be courageous enough to say ‘That’s not our job, we can’t help you.’ ” However, our investigation shows that her business, Prudentia, has derived a substantial advantage from government assistance and contracts: federal assistance from a 2002 SBA loan guarantee to Prudentia, and local government assistance in the form of lucrative contracts handed to Ms Medina’s company shortly after receiving the federal loan. Our question is: How does she explain to her supporters that it’s fair for Ms. Medina to reap the benefits of government subsidized loans and contracts for her personal gain, but wrong for her Texan constituents to receive the same advantages?

2. Regarding Prudentia’s business, what portion of the company’s revenues come from contracts with the city of Wharton, and what portion of revenues does her company earn from “free market” clients: the “physicians, attorneys, insurance companies and ambulance services” she says are her clients?

3. According to records, Ms Medina registered to vote in 1991 in Texas, identifying her race as “Hispanic.” Exactly how “Hispanic” is Ms Medina? Who among her parents, grandparents, etc is “Hispanic”?

4. Has Ms Medina ever applied as a “Hispanic” for government contracts, government loans or student loans? Has Ms Medina ever used her gender or “Hispanic” race to gain competitive advantage in either business or student activities? What about the SBA loan—was her Prudentia loan granted based on a program favoring either Ms. Medina’s gender or “Hispanic” race?

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By Tim Davis, February 24, 2010 at 4:04 pm Link to this comment
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Hypocrite? Are you sure? She provides a service to government, therefore she should never speak ill of government, or try to reform it?

By that weird logic no one who is elected to office should ever want to change the way the government works?

Wow, you got me.

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