Who Do You Believe, Me or Your Lying Eyes?

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception, Spin

House candidate mum on doctored campaign photo
His aide says there wasn’t time for photo session
by Alan Bernstein
Houston Chronicle
January 18, 2007

U.S. House candidate and former Sugar Land mayor Dean Hrbacek"™s head on another man"™s bodyThe brochure that U.S. House candidate and former Sugar Land mayor Dean Hrbacek mailed to voters this week says, “Dean’s record speaks for itself.”

But his physique does not. In a photo next to the words of praise, Hrbacek’s body is spoken for by the torso of an appreciably slimmer man.

The picture, presented as a true image of the candidate, is actually a computerized composite of Hrbacek’s face and someone else’s figure, in suit and tie, from neck to knee caps. The give-away is a flawed fit of head and collar.

Hrbacek, a tax lawyer and accountant, did not return calls about the campaign literature Thursday. He is among 10 Republicans seeking the nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, D-Stafford.

But campaign manager Scott Broschart admitted the image is a fake.

Hrbacek has been so busy meeting voters in the 22nd Congressional District that he had no time for a photo session that would have produced a full-length, genuine photo for the political mailing, Broschart said.

So Hrbacek’s campaign consultants at the Patriot Group in Austin “” whose clients have included congressmen, elected state officials and politically influential homebuilder Bob Perry “” put the headless body with the candidate’s disembodied head.

“He may appreciate that we took a few pounds off him,” Broschart said.

“I think the voters … are more concerned with the issues as opposed to pretty photo shoots,” he added.

The Patriot Group declined to comment.

Wholesale altering of a candidate’s photograph in campaign material is extremely rare as well as politically treacherous “because it can question the veracity of other things you are trying to get across,” said Republican political consultant Allen Blakemore of Houston, who has no client in the congressional race.

Blakemore, whose clients have included U.S. Senate and House members, said there is no law against the practice “other than the laws of gravity; the negative effect on your polling numbers and popularity when you do such things.”

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle