Cynthia Brehm

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Cynthia Turner Brehm,
formerly known as Cindy Speer


Chairman of the Republican Party
for Bexar County, Texas
In office
June 11, 2018 – August 2020
Preceded by Mark Dorazio
Succeeded by John Austin

Born May 11, 1960
Spouse(s) (1) Missing

(2) Norman Brehm
Daughter from first marriage:
Lauren Marue Brehm

Residence San Antonio, Texas
Occupation Businesswoman
Religion Christianity

Cynthia Turner Brehm, formerly known as Cindy Speer (born May 11, 1960), is the former chairman of the Bexar County Republican Party, based in San Antonio, Texas. She was chosen by voters in the runoff election held on May 22, 2018, to succeed the interim chairman, Mark Dorazio, who like Brehm is considered a staunch conservative in the party, which also has a considerable Moderate Republican wing associated with former state House Speaker Joe Straus and departing U.S. Representative Will Hurd of Texas' 23rd congressional district.

On July 14, 2020, Brehm lost her bid for a second two-year term, 67 to 33 percent, to her more moderate opponent, John Austin, who carried the support of Governor Greg Abbott and state Republican Chairman James Dickey.[1]

Background

Brehm is a descendant of original settlers from the Canary Islands who were instrumental in the founding of San Antonio. One of her ancestors was a mayor of San Antonio.[2]

As soon as she was elected chairman, it was reported that Brehm had refused to reveal details of her husband's reported sexual abuse of minors. Norman Brehm is a retired military officer since employed by General Dynamics Corporation in Afghanistan. The two have lived apart for seven years. She resides in a $647,000 home in the wealthy Dominion neighborhood which they co-own. He can visit her only occasionally because of the distance between Texas and Afghanistan. Patty Gibbons, a past Brehm supporter and critic of former state House Speaker Joe Straus, said that she was appalled to learn of Norman Brehm's indecency case and questions Cynthia Brehm for trying to keep the matter private. In an email on May 25, 2018, Brehm said that her husband "sadly got into pornography and did something absolutely stupid. He flashed my 14-year-old daughter." Norman Brehm escaped prosecution on an indecency charge because his case was forward after expiration of the statute of limitations. On May 13, 2009, the sentence for the indecency charge was set aside by the United States Army Court of Criminal Appeals.[3] In July of 2018, the San Antonio Express News reported that this was not the Norman Brehm's first accusation of child sexual abuse. U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) looked into a series of allegations against him covering the period from 1983-88, including acts of sexual assault against children and exposing minors to pornography. The CID's investigation "established probable cause to believe LTC Brehm committed the offenses of Forcible Sodomy, Indecent Acts and Liberties with a Child, when on numerous occasions he forced (name redacted) to perform oral sodomy upon him, indecently assaulting (her) and exposing her to various forms of adult and child pornography."[4] The Army court system ultimately found Norman Brehm guilty on charges of indecency with a child and making a false statement.

Tylden Shaeffer, the unsuccessful Republican nominee for Bexar County district attorney in the November 6 general election against the Democrat Joe D. Gonzales, said that he is "extremely troubled" by the Brehm revelation and called upon her to step down "today" as the party chairman. Patty Gibbons expressed feat that Brehm's presence in the campaign will alienate party donors and damage the campaigns of down-ballot Republicans in the general election.[3] Brehm refused to resign as party chairman despite the questions raised.[5]

Political life

Brehm lost a 2015 bid for mayor of San Antonio and a 2017 race for the District 8 seat on the San Antonio City Council.

In the four-candidate field for county chairman, Mark Dorazio was not a candidate for a full-term in the primary held on March 6, 2018, but remained the Precinct 3091 chairman..[6] Other candidates in the primary were Dwight Parscale (the father of Donald Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale), who had lost the interim election to Dorazio, and finished the primary with 21 percent of the ballots cast. JoAnn Ponce Gonzalez (23 percent), a former agent with the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms who carried considerable business support, entered the May 22 runoff with Brehm. Andres Holliday trailed in fourth place with the remaining 11 percent of the vote.[7] Brehm defeated Ponce Gonzalez, in the runoff contest with nearly 70 percent of the ballots cast.[2][3]

Six months into her tenure as chairman, Brehm was jolted when the Democrats, led by Beto O'Rourke in his liberal challenge to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and Lupe Valdez, in her long-shot bid against Governor g Abbott, swept Bexar County in the mid-term election held on November 6, 2018.

Brehm led in the primary election for a second term as chairman in the primary held on March 3, 2020. She polled 24,166 votes (33.5 percent) and now faces John Bernard Austin (born 1968), who trailed Brehm by about 2 percent of the ballots cast. A runoff contest scheduled for May 26 was postponed until July 14. The owner of JBA, Inc., a real estate appraisal company, Austin also takes conservative positions on issues but maintains that Brehm failed to lead a united party in critical elections in 2018. Austin is endorsed by the four preceding Webb County chairmen, including his campaign treasurer, San Antonio attorney Roy Barrera, Jr., chairman from 1992 to 2004, and Robert Stovall, the chairman from 2013 to 2017. Austin's wife, the former Daphne Previti, is an attorney and former judge of the Texas 289th District Court, with service from 2015 to 2018, when she was unseated by a Democrat, Carlos Quezada.[8]

Meanwhile, Daphne Austin was the unsuccessful Republican nominee for the the District 386 juvenile court judgeship in the general election on November 3, 2020. She lost her race to Democrat Jacqueline Valdés, who had easily outpolled Austin in their respective primaries on March 3.[9]

Austin accused Brehm of not giving enough support for local candidates in the 2018 elections. She also came under fire in the campaign from Moderate Republicans on the premise that she promoted a "conspiracy theory" about the shooting of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She also claimed that the coronavirus was “promulgated by the Democrats to undo all the good that President Trump has done for our country." She encouraged people to “take off your masks.”[1]

Having alleged improper counting practices and obstructing Republican poll watchers by the Bexar County elections office, Brehm refused to certify the results of the runoff in which she was unseated. Austin will hence get his commission from the state party.[10]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dominic Anthony Walsh (July 14, 2020). 'We Have a Lot of Healing to Do' - John Austin Defeats Incumbent Bexar County GOP Chair. Texas Public Radio. Retrieved on July 16, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cynthia Brehm. Facebook. Retrieved on March 16, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gilbert Garcia, "GOP chair faces backlash over husband's scandal" (commentary), The San Antonio Express-News, May 27, 2018, p. A2.
  4. Gilbert Garcia (July 21, 2018). Sexual-assault allegations surface about husband of GOP chair. The San Antonio Express-News. Retrieved on March 16, 2020.
  5. The Jack Riccardi Show,', May 29, 2018.
  6. Cynthia Brehm. Ballotpedia.org. Retrieved on January 22, 2018.
  7. Rishika Dugyala (March 7, 2018). Here's how six of Texas' most interesting local primaries turned out: Bexar County Republican Party Chair. The Texas Tribune. Retrieved on March `12, 2018.
  8. John Austin: Endorsed by Trusted, Proven, Local Republican Leaders. Electjohnaustin.com. Retrieved on March 14, 2020.
  9. Daphne Previti Austin. Ballotpedia.com. Retrieved on March 14, 2020.
  10. Elizabeth Ruiz. Republican Party chair refuses to certify primary runoff election results. KTSA Radio in San Antonio. Retrieved on July 24, 2020.