By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
In high school in Midlothian, though, he found ways to get even. His father, a mechanic, helped him take care of his 1970 Camaro, "the fastest car, and the wildest car in high school," Dauben says. Better yet, his parents knew the owners of the DeSoto newspaper, the Focus Daily News, who gave him a job covering his own school's football team.
"I wasn't a fighter," Dauben says. "So I basically wrote articles about people. That's how I got back at my bullies."
He was eyeing a career in sports writing until he ended up covering a Lancaster City Council meeting. "I was like, 'Holy shit!'" Dauben says. "I just found this bloodthirst." He moved to the Ellis County Press in 2001, the year he graduated from high school.
He made his first run for office at 22, filing for a spot on the Midlothian school board and losing by just 19 votes, he says. In his next race, he won just 10 percent of the vote in a bid to join the Waxahachie City Council.
He tried college, too, leaving the paper in 2005 to enroll in classes at a couple of schools in Waxahachie. But that didn't stick either. "I was using Ron Paul arguments for economic stuff, and [the professor] didn't want anything to do with that," Dauben says. "So I was like, 'Man, this is boring.'"
In 2006, Dauben started the first of his "cyber-squatting" holding companies, buying up domain names that might generate interest from companies later, especially common misspellings like "golfdiges.com" and "texasloghorns.com." His companies included extensive portfolios of URLs, but he says he was really just a paid public front for the anonymous out-of-town bosses who sent him $1,500 a month, covered his legal bills and pocketed the settlements or sales fees. "It was basically a multi-level tax shelter scheme," he says.
It was around this time, while he was trying his hand at school, that Dauben launched the Ellis County Observer, his blog. When college didn't work out, he rejoined the Press' news desk but kept his blog alive, using it to publish rumors. A post from this spring is headlined, "Analysis: Why Many Women Aren't Cops," in which Dauben offers a theory: "Innate differences between a male's sense of direction and their geographic superiority is why we don't see very many female peace officers."
In 2009, after spending his entire life in Ellis County, Dauben decided to move to New Hampshire. He thought it would be a good place to finish college, explore his newfound interest in the law and, he says, "kind of build my base for when I'm running for president."
But not long after he landed back East, Dauben's reportorial gun-slinging backfired. Before he'd left for New England, he's found himself in the middle of a feud between two small-town cops. When one of them, Michael Meissner, asked Dauben to help set up some sites to trash the other, he obliged, and collected $125 for his services. Later, when Meissner fed him a mug shot of a former cop arrested for impersonating an officer, Dauben was all too happy to run it on his blog.
Eventually Meissner's nemesis, John Hoskins, a Combine reserve officer, set out to take his revenge. In September 2009, he secured a warrant for Meissner, claiming he'd found thousands of lewd text messages on Meissner's phone. It was the ultimate score in the long-running spat between the two officers. A SWAT busted into Meissner's Arlington home.
But it wasn't just Meissner who Hoskins was after. He also told authorities that Dauben had conspired with Meissner to post a mug shot obtained illegally from a police database. Dauben was arrested at his new home in the Northeast. He wound up on the evening news in New Hampshire, in stories that referenced his ties to a kiddie porn operation in Texas.
Dallas County prosecutors quickly refused the charges against Dauben and Meissner, but Dauben spent 12 days in jail before word reached New Hampshire.
"First four nights," Dauben says, "not gonna lie — cried myself to sleep. I was scared, terrified, never been in a position like that before."
When he got out, Dauben says, he knew he'd found his calling. He took a cab back to his apartment, packed and drove back to Texas, committed to rooting out small-town corruption.
"I'm walking in with my guns blazing," Dauben says. "I don't care if you're an Elvis impersonator or Jesus Christ Superstar. If you're corrupt, your ass is going in my paper."
After coming home, in late 2009, he tried returning to the Press for a few months. But they weren't on board with his muckraking zeal, or his plan to start new spin-off papers in towns all around Ellis County. So he paid $5 for the Palmer Post, a paper he'd helped some folks in town start earlier but had become a receptacle for recipes, blond jokes and "grammatical debauchery."
It was the start of his life as a mini-media mogul. Dauben started Freedom of the Press Group, a blanket organization for all the papers that would follow, and went about pulling employment records for cops in towns all around Dallas, crooked or not, and posting them on his site.
I am very proud to have known Joey Dauben. Ellis Co. needs him to keep the good old girls and boys in their institutions accountable. As a past resident of Ferris Tx., I was happy to leave this town but miss some nice people and wish them the best. I laughed hard reading this article, thanks. PL
Hmmmmm Karma can be a bitch can't it, poor Joey, looks like he just can't take it when someone investigates HIM. You can't call yourself a journalist when you only take one side of a story or a rumor and post it up as fact. Perhaps this will teach him to have a little empathy for others, but I doubt it. He keeps doing the same reckless things that have got him arrested AGAIN...and then just can't shut up about it, a defense attourney's nightmare!
The dude gets in the Dallas Observer and then police RAID HIS HOUSE.!!!!!!!What the heck did the Dallas Observer do to this guy?!?!?
Fascinating story about someone who has never finished doing what he started and never managed to hold on to a long term job telling others how to run things. Ignorance is bliss.
Joey Dauben is like a character straight out of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I'm thinking Charlie Kelly.
Some guy I used to read on Twitter once said that Idiocracy isn't a comedy. It's a documentary. I feel the same way about It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and no I don't want to be Frank Reynolds.
Why didn't Joey mention his drug use and "teenage experimentation with homosexuality"? Are you cured, Joey? Was it the pedophilia or the hatemongering that did the job?
Fox News has taught an entire generation of derivative right-wing morons that with just a little bit off shitslinging and a dependence on "positive thinking" they too can become Sarah Palin. Absolutely disgusting.
Erik, is this still over the YouTube channel? Get over it...you are a just a jealous, control freak.
Gay ag teacher? Who cares? How is this germane to the issue? That one sentence lost me. I am not gay, but this intolerance of others who are doing no harm is getting old.
Had the pleasure of working aside Joey at the Obama Town Hall of 2009 in NH -- you know the one where ONE guy was singled out for carrying and who appeared on Chris Matthews? What the dopes didn't know is that EVERYONE in NH 'carries'.... there were probably 300 of them there, many women too. Much ado about nothing.
Just be careful OBSERVER, Joey wins,he may battle you guys next and your www.backpage.com that has all the innocent sweet working girls and their adds in it ! " The Oldest Occupation in The World " LOL
The "Rupert Murdoch" of Dallas, including stereotyping and stigmatizing gays ... and being too nutbar for the borderline-racist rantings of the Ellis County Press. That's "our" Joey; at least he's finally fessed up to his cybersquatting and why.
...meanwhile, we just launched The Odessa Observer news Web site, which will eventually become its own newspaper as well.
Who the fuck is this dipshit twat and who the fuck cares about him enough to make it a cover story?
JD is looking old and scared. It's really a shame. He's a smart guy and he seems to be a nice guy most of the time. I truly hope he gets out of this "publishing medical records" scrape and turns over a new leaf. The worst thing would be a conviction and prison time.
What is your point you hateful smug? You know our constitutionis written on hemp. and God gave us free will to learn what was right and wrong. Without experiementation I guess we'd all be shallow, close minded, one liner regurgitating fools like yourself. Hows your beamer doing to pock up chicks you mid life loser.
Whats sad is my fellow liberal won't own up to MSNBC doing the same. I don't think he idolizes Ms. Palin, who never had an electable chance without immediate revolution following. Im pretty progressive...but Ron Paul has VERY valid points. Jesus gave me my courage to follow a path on positivity, not FOX or any other subjugative media outlet. Listen to Thom Hartmann and drop the other side hate. We used to enjoy political debate, dissent, and criticism. It is he who stands firm on hallowed ground who stands for the Lord.
It was more John Rockefeller and the Art of War that helped me :) That quote from Rockefeller summed it up: "Own nothing, control everything." Oh, and Jesus. He definitely got my start.
Keep quacking, Coleman.
It wasn't the ag teacher. Brandy clarified this remark, and so did I (on The Ellis County Observer.) We were discussing an ag teacher, yes, but the thing about the sexual molestation/sex scandal involved an In-School-Suspension teacher at Palmer High School, not the gay ag teacher.
Thanks, man. I do believe we just inked a deal to expand Newspaper No. 42 into the "north-of-Fort-Worth-area."
lol, wow, such a mean person. Steve, I'm in need of very opinionated writers, if you ever wanna jump on my media rocketship ;)
Did you take your pills this morning? Go back to infowars.com.
Way to keep your integrity Dauben. I may not agree completely with you, but I appreciate your courage and willingness to do something, which is a lot more than most. Steve is a jerk who probably never gets laid unless he hits backpage!!!!!!!
"Was it the pedophilia or the hatemongering that did the job?"Do you hear yourself? Mr. h8 h8 h8 h8?Look what you've let yourself act like, just to defend yourself. I don't dislike you, just the hate you've accepted into your life. I have compassion for your existence, unlike yourself. You've resorted to nana-bobo retorts instead of debating. You seem smarter than that, but the evidence is lacking...
Will check it out! You think it suits me? Thanks for the help in findnig fellow like minded Americans! I would love to be part of what you hate...if only to be away from the HATE that you and others who share your view, spew.
Good job. Let's throw comprehension and context completely out the window. Good luck with your Jungian studies. May it make you the most interesting of interns at the Ellis County Gazette or whatever shitrag you aspire to toil your labors at.
It is your reliance on communicating anger to get your point across, using names like fucknut morons. Your anger and ignorance illuminate your unevolved perspective. You don't have to be miserable or discontent...that is your mind's expectations causing you to get angry. Nothing else.I guess I'm a fucknut moron because you disagree with ME, or my viewpoint? I'm confused as to how disagreeing with similar heores of mine and Mr. Dauber's makes me a fucknut moron. You obviously dislike Ron Pauls view and hate Jesus, or the religion that loves him so. Why else would you state your doubt of his existence? How does that help, by trashing Mr. Dauber? Do you have any opinions of your own, or are they just knee-jerk negative reactions to feeling uncomfortable with that which you do not understand?
I emplore you to you use your grey-matter for more than sufficing your subconscious.
My beliefs don't require that you believe them. I don't care if you think he was real, he is an inevitable archetypal outcome of a world society stuggling to evolve from fear to love. If not then...eventually. How happy are you, buddy? How's your perspective workin for ya? Lots of friends and love in your life huh? Some of us are actually trying. I can't wait for the next elections, we'll see how funny he is to you then! Eventually, I will be able to welcome you to the unconditional loving perspective your soul longs for, but your unevolved human mind has yet to discover.
He's right, keep quacking Coleman.
Good job Joey!!! I'm not at all scarrd to stand behind someone that is for the truth. Nreds to be more people that are not afraid in my book.
Yeah, I did. I learned to go after everybody in public office who subscribes to the view that not being honest is a trait to possess. Joseph in Hebrew means "God Shall Increase." And the Combine PD tried to silence Freedom of the Press. My first day in, I said, "I will increase Freedom of the Press that they tried to silence." And thus, Freedom of the Press Group was formed...
I learned quite a deal while locked up for 12 days. Now I'm teaching the lessons.