ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Jeremy Telman
Oklahoma City University
School of Law

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

More Unilateral Contract News: Texas GOP Politician Pays out $25,000

Yesterday, we noted that Elon Musk's "offer" to donate $6 billion to solve world hunger was couched in conditions that rendered it non-binding.  Musk's offer likely was not serious.  Rather, it was a more clearly provocative version of the attempted jest in Lucy v. Zehmer.   It was more of a taunt than it was a charitable pledge.  In the alternative, Musk's offer could be characterized as an illusory promise.  Musk demanded proof that the UN World Food Program demonstrate its ability to do the work for which it won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020.  He likely considered himself the lone arbiter of the adequacy of the evidence, and he was prepared to move the goalposts.

You can vote for your favorite characterization of Musk's Tweet by taking this Twitter poll.  Don't like any of the options?  Leave a comment!

Dan PatrickBut today, we have word of a real offer accepted through completed performance.  We posted ten months ago about Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick's offer of $25,000 for anyone who comes forward with evidence of voter fraud in connection with the 2020 Presidential election.  There was some skepticism expressed in the comments regarding the enforceability of the offer or of its duration.  One of my students, not satisfied with the efforts of the Republican governor, Republican secretary of state, or the Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney for Georgia, had to be restrained from undertaking her own investigation into electoral fraud in that state.  

But now, via Professor Miriam Cherry's reliable nose for contracts news, we learn from the Dallas Morning News that Dan Patrick (left) has cut his first check.  Alas, it does not relate to systematic voter fraud, and the fraud did not occur in Georgia.  It did occur in another contested state, Pennsylvania, but the fraud consisted of a single case of voter fraud by a Republican voter who tried to vote twice, once on his own behalf, and once for his son, a registered Democrat.  The Dallas Morning News describes the recipient of the $25,000 check as "the scion of a family of Democratic operatives."  What a strange phrase!  Is that on his c.v.?

In any case, let's credit Dan Patrick for doing the honorable thing and paying up.  On the other hand, it's not like he was paying out his own money.  The money came from his campaign war chest, which stands at $23 million right now.  In addition, maybe it is also time for Mr. Patrick to acknowledge what his offer really reveals.  Even with a pretty generous economic incentive (he set up a fund of $1 million), nobody was able to successfully claim the reward by having uncovered evidence of voting fraud by Democrats.  That is extraordinary, and extraordinarily telling.  Mr. Patrick ought to acknowledge that fact and concede that the allegations of election fraud in the 2020 elections had and have no basis in fact. Alas, according to the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Patrick had no comment.

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I continue to maintain that Patrick is a vampire who only dresses up as a human on Halloween to scare his undead pals. Like they say in Texas (or at least I assume they do), somethin’ ain’t right with that boy!

And yeah, the whole “scion” thing was laying it on a little thick, wasn’t it? That said, I note that elsewhere they described him as “a progressive poll worker.” Anyway, that got me curious, so I decided to dig a bit further. It turns out maybe it’s not such an inaccurate description. Another news article on the fraud case includes this detail about his family: “[The Republican voter’s lawyer] Vaughan suggested that … Eric Frank, was in league with his father, David Frank, the precinct judge of elections, … noting that Eric Frank’s mother and David Frank’s wife is Lani Frank, a noted Democratic Party activist in [Chester] county.”

So I guess the description is fair enough. And it’s not like The Dallas Morning News is a rightwing tabloid or anything. For Texas papers at least, it could be considered moderately liberal, similar to the NYT. It previously endorsed Hillary and Beto, although for the 2020 presidential election it just abstained—what a copout!

Getting back to Patrick though, like you said, not much was at stake for him, given that it was only his donors’ money. I’m just a little surprised he didn’t think to limit his offer in the first place to only instances of Democratic voter fraud. Maybe he thinks it’s better to push a (obviously fictional) story of widespread fraud as a general matter, regardless of which party’s voters are perpetrating it. That could make sense from his perspective.

In closing, I note that Chester County includes Easttown. So next time a voting fraud case happens, they could have Mare Sheehan investigate! 😊

Posted by: kotodama | Nov 2, 2021 6:55:45 AM

Justice delayed is justice denied. No voter fraud, or is the political system fast at fraud and slow at investigation?

Posted by: Laney Ellis | Nov 3, 2021 8:42:15 AM

No voter fraud seems to be the answer. Justice delayed is justice denied is a great slogan, but it has no applicability here. There are no outstanding colorable claims. Many of the claims were brought in bad faith, and the attorneys involved have been sanctioned for misconduct.

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Nov 3, 2021 10:39:42 AM