Archive for March, 2012

Perry donor ordered to pay $195 million for fraud

A Travis County jury Friday ordered Patrick Cox, founder of TaxMasters and big Republican donor, to pay more than $195 mil. for defrauding customers in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S. and committing over 110,000 violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. TaxMasters must pay more than $113 mil. back to its customers.

"Today’s decision marks a significant victory for the Texans and TaxMasters customers nationwide who sought help from TaxMasters with their income tax debts and were taken advantage of in the midst of a national economic downturn," Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a statement. "While the TaxMasters CEO made hollow promises about fighting for taxpayers and their pocketbooks in television ads, the evidence proved that the firm didn’t even bother to show up when it came time to fulfill those promises, but instead misled and defrauded their customers."

Cox donated to Sen. John Cornyn’s campaign in 2008, and Gov. Rick Perry’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010.

Abbott’s office also accuses TaxMasters of filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in "an apparent effort to avoid the State’s enforcement action."

Gingrich, Paul and Santorum say yes to Texas debate

The Texas Republican Party is hoping to host a nationally televised Republican debate ahead of the state’s May 29 primary. Today, State GOP Chairman Steve Munisteri said Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul have committed.

Mitt Romney is the only hold-out. State party officials say they’ve reached out to the Romeny camp, and he’s considering attending the debate. Munisteri said, "I am disappointed that Governor Romney has not yet committed to attending an official Republican Party of Texas event." He called it "disrespectful to all Texas Republicans for a candidate not to attend."

According to Munisteri, an un-named major television network has agreed to carry the debate, but only if all the candidates show up. Tentative dates and a location have been discussed, but no final decisions will be made until Romney makes a decision.

Cornyn is last man standing in Republican Whip race

It’s looking more likely Texas Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, will be the number two among Senate Republicans. Roll Call reports Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, is dropping his bid for Minority Whip.

“In recent weeks, I have come to the realization that the difficult and time-consuming nature of the policy issues I am invested in is not always consistent with a position in leadership. I have introduced many pieces of legislation, including Medicare and Medicaid reform proposals, and I intend to work vigorously to see them enacted. These efforts require serious attention, and they simply cannot be pursued with the focus they demand while also serving as a member of leadership." Burr said in a statement to Roll Call.

Cornyn currently serves as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Romney sets sights on Texas, picks up major endorsement

Republican Mitt Romney is setting his sights on Texas, this week. Romney will kick off a two-day three-city fundraising tour in Dallas. He’ll attend a dinner there, tonight. Tomorrow, Romney makes stops in San Antonio and Houston.

The San Antonio event is closed to the press. In Houston, Romney will be joined by former President and Texan, George H.W. Bush. Bush will formally endorse Romney at an event at the St. Regis hotel. Bush’s endorsement could be a sign that the Republican establishment is rallying around Romney.

Romeny’s visit comes one week after rival Rick Santorum made a swing through the Lone-Star state. With the nomination far from locked up, analysts say Texas’ May 29 primary could play a large role in the republican primary.

Abbott, Cornyn weigh in on SCOTUS health care developments

State Republicans opposed to the Obama administration’s health care law say they’re pleased with the way the proceedings are progressing. Capital Tonight’s Paul Brown spoke with Attorney General Greg Abbott from our Washington D.C. bureau, today.

That interview is here:

Senator John Cornyn and other Republican lawmakers weighed in from Capitol Hill, as well.

Here are Sen. Cornyn’s comments:

We did reach out to the Texas Democratic Party for their thoughts on the proceedings, thus far. We have not heard back.

Voter ID trial date set

A Washington DC court will begin hearing arguments in the Texas voter ID legislation trial on July 9. The federal district court will decide if the law should be allowed to take effect. The law, passed last legislative session, requires voters to present photo identification before casting a ballot.

Earlier this month, the Department of Justice denied the state preclearance, saying the law didn’t stand up to Section 5 of Voting Rights Act. In other words, the state couldn’t prove it doesn’t have a discriminatory purpose or effect.

Texas is one of several southern states required to get preclearance. Attorney General Greg Abbott is also challenging that part of the law. In an amended complaint to the original lawsuit, he claimed Section 5 was unconstitutional.

That issue won’t be discussed, however, unless the court denies preclearance. In its initial scheduling order, the district court said "Count II of the State of Texas’s Amended Complaint alleging that Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional shall not be addressed unless the Court denies judicial preclearance of Senate Bill 41."

Elizabeth Ames Jones releases first TV ad

State Senate candidate Elizabeth Ames Jones released her first radio and television ads, today. Jones served as Chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, and is running for Senate District 25. She will face incumbent Jeff Wentworth and Donna Campbell in the May primary.

Here’s the ad:

Paul supporters float plan B: third party run?

In light of the campaign’s low number of delegates and low position in the polls, Ron Paul supporters are coming up with a Plan B: a third party run. Volunteers with Grassroots for Liberty, a Ron Paul Super PAC, called supporters Friday asking for donations and floating the idea of a third party bid launched at the Republican National Convention in August.

“Plan B, a third party run, would be greatly [unclear] by having as much support at the national convention as possible. Showing that we can pull a ton of support from one of the major parties would be a gigantic publicity stunt and a great way to launch a third party run,” a supporter named Perry said in a voicemail Friday.

Perry went on to say that “things are so different” from when Paul ran in 2008, saying that
Rep. Paul could be successful this time around. Supporters who signed up with are asked to log on and donate money to help buy calls to potential caucus goers in upcoming states.

Paul, and many of his supporters, have said he would not seek a third party nomination if he loses the GOP race.

Hutchison voices support for Planned Parenthood

In a rare move, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is breaking with the Republican party, voicing support for Planned Parenthood. Her comments were in reaction to a state law that cuts funding to women’s health clinics that are affiliated with abortion providers. Planned Parenthood is among the providers that will be banned from participating in the Medicaid program. As a result, the federal government will no longer fund the state’s Women’s Health Program.

In an interview with MSNBC, Hutchison said we "cannot afford to lose the Medicaid funding for low income women to have health care services." She also criticized Gov. Perry’s plan to find money to fund the program using state money.

Here’s the full interview:

The Texas Democratic Party released this statement, supporting Sen. Hutchison’s stance:

“We applaud Senator Hutchison for breaking with her Republican Party’s attempt to endanger women’s health care. Sadly, every Republican running to replace Senator Hutchison supports the deplorable attacks on women’s health care. If Texans want to make sure these types of attacks on women do not continue, they need to vote Democratic.”

Paul calls Secret Service protection ‘welfare’

Given the choice between an appearance on the Tonight Show, and campaigning on the day of the Illinois primary, Ron Paul opted for a TV appearance. He was on Jay Leno, last night.

He talked about his opponents, his time on the campaign trail and his decision not to request Secret Service protection. Of the four remaining candidates, Paul is the only one who doesn’t have a Secret Service detail. Last night, he said he’s an ordinary citizen who should pay for his own protection. He called Secret Service protection a form of welfare.

Meanwhile, Paul came in a distant third in Illinois, with 9 percent of the vote. He has yet to win any primary or caucuses.

Here’s part of his interview from last night: