ROCKWALL — (Editor’s Note: A large portion of the content reviewed for the writing of this article comes from online correspondence and e-mail. In the instances where quotes are derived from written sources, these quotes are reproduced without regard to case, spelling or grammar.
An attempt was made to contact Jerry Ray Hall and allow him to present his side of this story. To date, he has not done so.)
Jerry Ray (TEA) Hall is making his second run at unseating Ralph Hall as the U.S. Representative of House District 4. The first time around, in 1996, Jerry Ray Hall easily won the Republican nomination for the office, but lost to then-Democrat Ralph Hall in the general election.
Associating himself with the popular TEA Party movement, Jerry Ray is on the campaign trail again. Representing himself as a staunch Republican and devout Christian, Jerry Ray Hall touts himself as having been "TEA when TEA wasn't cool."
His campaign press releases state, "Jerry acquired his name because in his 1996 campaign he was saying stop the spending then and cut taxes so much his friends started calling him Texas Tea Hall jokingly and the name stuck as Tea Hall."
But in the past week, a group of individuals claiming to know Hall from their dealings with him in the Central American nation of Panama say that this is the least bothersome discrepancy they can think of regarding Jerry Ray.
Charges of character assassination
Chief among Jerry Ray's critics is Clyde Jenkins. An American expatriate now living in Colombia pulls no punches when it comes to discussing the aspiring politician.
Jenkins said that Jerry Ray launched a personal smear campaign of the worst kind against him while he was living in Panama.
"He accused me of being a pedophile," Jenkins said. "I would rather be accused of murder. There isn't anything worse you can accuse a man of."
According to Jenkins, the attack came as a result of being one of the individuals that "unmasked" the real Jerry Ray Hall, whom he states was falsely representing himself in the Panamanian community. The story dates back a few years, but at least one editor of an online newspaper in Panama corroborates Jenkins' story.
Don Winner is the owner and editor of “panama-guide.com” and claims that it is the No.1 source of news for the American expatriate community in Panama. He has met Jerry Ray Hall in person, and is 100 percent sure that it is the same Jerry Ray Hall that is running for congress. Winner stated that the scandal began for him in early 2006 when Jerry Ray approached him with "inside information" on three individuals.
"He first called my office and tried to convince me to publish unsubstantiated lies he had created about them," Winner related. "He told me Susan Guberman-Garcia had been disbarred in California (false), that her husband was a wanted criminal in the State of California (false), the Jay Lewis was basically a mob lawyer who primarily represents Mafia killers and drug traffickers, and he also alluded to the possibility of money laundering (false).
“And finally he said Clyde Jenkins was wanted in Washington State as a pedophile (false).
“He said he was getting the information from a 'secret' government law enforcement database.
“He said that due to his work as a government contractor and mediator, he still had a login and password to this computer system. When I asked him to send me copies of the information he supposedly had, he said he could not because 'if the people who gave me access to this system found out that I was providing information to a journalist, they would throw me in prison.'"
Winner said he then asked Jerry Ray to simply provide the information regarding which counties in California and Washington the individuals were wanted in so he could look up the information himself. He states at that point Jerry Ray backed off and wouldn't provide any information at all.
But according to Winner, Jerry Ray did not let that stop him. He said that articles touting the allegations against Clyde Jenkins then popped up on a rival English-language Panamanian newspaper called "Noriegaville."
According to Jenkins, the article in which he was painted as a suspected pedophile appeared in Noriegaville in January 2007. Substantiation of that fact is impossible, because the Noriegaville website has been taken down as of Sept. 28, 2007. Jenkins says that it is because of a criminal complaint he filed against its owner, Okke Ornstein. Jenkins did provide the Herald-Banner with a version of the article which Jenkins said he printed out from the website.
One might doubt that such a retaliatory matter taken out in the local expatriate press would actually happen, but a post on the Yahoo "Panama Forum" contributed by a writer identifying himself as "Jerry Hall" made on Jan. 2, 2007 seems to corroborate such a tale.
"I have decided to use my Political connections to find out just who these people are that are continuing to try to trash everyone that is new to this site. I worked for the US Department of Justice Immigration division. NOW IT IS TIME TO FIND OUT THE SCOOP ON THE PEOPLE ON HERE THAT ARE SLAMMING EVERYONE ELSE. I am not a real estate scammer I came down here with more money that I need to retire in Peace, I have donated over $1,000,000 for education to the Schools in Panama and continue to try to make Panama a better place."