Small-Town Muckraker Joey Dauben Will Run the World Some Day. Just Ask Him.

In the little towns outside of Dallas, publisher and aspiring politician Joey Dauben is on a crusade to expose abuses of power, civic mischief and -- most of all -- himself.

"We're not gonna do things the way the old corporate media, the journalism schools teach you, because we've seen where that gets you," Dauben says. He envisions a return to the sort of journalism America's founding fathers would have enjoyed, "the way things have been done in the 17-, 1800s, where there were riots in the streets."

Dauben is well trained in the school of journalism he so despises. Charlie Hatfield spent eight years as Dauben's editor at the Ellis County Press, the mainstream paper Dauben now says he'll run out of business someday. Dauben produced solid journalism but grew too tempted to run with rumors, Hatfield says. When Dauben said he wanted to be a more vocal Tea Party activist outside of work, Hatfield told him he'd have to choose between activism and his job at the paper.

"A week later he had a red ski mask on," protesting outside the courthouse, Hatfield recalls.

"I love him to death, I feel like he could've been a son of mine," Hatfield says. "He used to know how to do it, but he chose to go another path." He calls Dauben's current work "libelous trash."

For most people, Hatfield says, Dauben's blog is "sort of like voyeurism. A lot of people go to his site to see who he's going after this week." He's not surprised that Dauben's blog has grown a devoted readership. "There are people out there who want to overthrow the government," he says.

Dauben wasn't conservative about his expansion from Palmer, plotting his Ellis County conquest the way you might start a game of "Risk" — moving counter-clockwise and setting up shop in every town he hit. He began with Rice, south of Ennis on I-45, whose community paper had fallen victim to the recession two years earlier. Then it was on to Frost, Italy, Milford, Maypearl and Venus. Seven papers in seven months, going to council meetings with cameras, making his case to potential advertisers.

"I've cultivated this following already, so when we announced our plans to expand to their city, it's like an NHL team announcing we're bringing a team," he says.

He also filed a civil rights suit against Hoskins and the City of Combine for his arrest, and has led the drumbeat on his blog about the case. Within months, the police chief and Hoskins had resigned, and city council members followed. In September 2010, Dauben posted a speech on YouTube, filmed along the railroad tracks in Palmer.

"Symbolically, this railroad track" — he pauses as the camera pans across the tracks, then back to Joey — "is a picture of just what happened to me. But at the same time, there are others still in jail, falsely imprisoned, at the hands of people like John Hoskins," Dauben says. "This experience was completely worth it. ... And readers, viewers, I'm not going away anytime soon. So you might want to get used to me."


Dauben's editor in Balch Springs is a private security officer named Curtis Butler. A former Navy man, Butler says he's used to the criticism that comes with doing this kind of work. He's one of the conservative franchisee types Dauben says has enabled him to expand so quickly into new towns, a guy who saw what the Freedom of the Press Group was up to and asked how he could join in the fun.

"I know the underbelly of the beast," Butler says, "the name-calling, the abuse that people will pile onto you for telling the truth." That doesn't change the fact that Midlothian's been jacking up its court costs to shore up its budget, he says, that good judges are being run out of their jobs for petty reasons, or that Palmer doesn't even have a working civil defense siren. "Palmer in particular has been locked in this 1940s-, 1950s-style mentality," Butler says. He loves these towns, he says, and he enjoys the voice the paper's given him. "Joey's a good friend and a mentor," Butler says.

He's also a good guy to know when you're looking for some discount vengeance. Lori Walkup, the mother of a teenage boy in Venus, says her son was kicked off the Venus Bulldogs' cheerleading squad for a private Facebook status update that the school said violated the "cheer constitution." Her complaints to the principal settled into a long-running sort of small-town cold war, Walkup says, until she was handed a $500 ticket for disorderly conduct for flipping off her neighbor and calling her "bitch." She says the principal, who also sits on the city council, was out to get her. (Walkup denies calling anyone a bitch; the principal didn't return calls for comment.)

Walkup says she didn't know where to turn, but Dauben was sympathetic to her story. When she happened to find photos online of another girl "drinking Boone's Farm and flipping off the camera," — in clear violation of the "cheer constitution" — she asked Dauben if he could use the shots. "He was like, 'Give them to me!' He bombarded the website with 'em," Walkup says.

On February 8, Dauben's 30th birthday, he scored the biggest get of his career. A source had photos from inside an Ennis apartment found full of child porn, snapped before the cops arrived to clean up. As revelations unfolded in the case, Dauben began reporting on tenuous connections between the man accused in the raid and the 1996 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman — the cold case that led to "Amber Alerts."

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62 comments
Sharon
Sharon

Good job Observer for glorifying a child molester.

Pato
Pato

Joey was arrested in Navarro County today for sexual assault.

Patricia Lee
Patricia Lee

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

Michaelmeissner
Michaelmeissner

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!

Darnell
Darnell

Ellis County's very own Don Quixote. Bueno suerte, Joey!

Msaw
Msaw

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.

Robert
Robert

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.

Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui

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?

Coleman
Coleman

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.

Daubencheri
Daubencheri

Erik, is this still over the YouTube channel? Get over it...you are a just a jealous, control freak.

Peggys1974
Peggys1974

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.

gadsdengurl
gadsdengurl

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.

Firedog274
Firedog274

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

Steve Snyder
Steve Snyder

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.

trannyntraining
trannyntraining

If it were not having the sense to reason i'd have enjoyed this article.

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

...meanwhile, we just launched The Odessa Observer news Web site, which will eventually become its own newspaper as well.

tim_lebsack
tim_lebsack

Excellent article. Joey D., I wish half the electorate were half as passionate.

HubCity Ed
HubCity Ed

Nice article. Keep up the good work Joey.

Steve
Steve

Quick question:

Who the fuck is this dipshit twat and who the fuck cares about him enough to make it a cover story?

Catbird
Catbird

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.

I Mcgaugh
I Mcgaugh

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.

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

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.

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

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.

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

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.

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

Thanks, man. I do believe we just inked a deal to expand Newspaper No. 42 into the "north-of-Fort-Worth-area."

Brandy Lemmon Owen
Brandy Lemmon Owen

LOL the guy who wrote the story "liked" this comment! That is funny.

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

lol, wow, such a mean person. Steve, I'm in need of very opinionated writers, if you ever wanna jump on my media rocketship ;)

Hideki
Hideki

Joey Dauben: violating your civil liberties so the government won't have to.

Coleman
Coleman

Ron Paul is a fucking joke and Jesus isn't real.

Catbird
Catbird

Didn't you learn anything during your stay in the Big House?

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

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!!!!!!!

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

"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...

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

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.

Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui

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.

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

"If we are not consciously growing, our subconscious is." -JungSuffice-to be enough for.

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

Coming from Mr. H8!!1 Hahahahahahaha! You and the late Mr. Bush seem to have more in common...

Hideki Matsui
Hideki Matsui

And, you sir, I implore you to enroll in a remedial English class.

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

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.

Coleman
Coleman

It's always the people who disagree with fucknut morons who are "unevolved" and "unloved," huh?

Ian C. McGaughey
Ian C. McGaughey

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.

Vickimccall79
Vickimccall79

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.

Catbird
Catbird

Or maybe it's "Jesus"...he was a teacher wasn't he?

Joey G. Dauben
Joey G. Dauben

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.

 
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