Archive for March, 2012

Cruz releases first TV ad

Senate Candidate Ted Cruz released his first television ad, today. On his website, Cruz says the "new spot, “Delivers,” comes on the day of the two-year anniversary of ObamaCare’s passage." In that vein, Cruz is launching a three day moneybomb, with a goal of raising $100,000.

The ad itself, meanwhile, has nothing to do with President Obama’s health care legislation. Instead, it focuses on illegal immigration and border security.

You can watch for yourself, here:

Arrest made in Wendy Davis’ office firebomb

A man has been arrested after numerous Molotov cocktails were thrown at the office door of state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. Two staffers were inside when the fire alarm went off around 4 p.m. Davis was not there at the time.

Davis spoke outside her office last night.

"Texas is facing some tremendous challenges right now," Davis said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It’s unfortunate when things like this happen in the public arena, and it reminds us of how important it is for us to remain very civil in our discourse."

Texas Democratic Party chairman Boyd Richie released a statement following news of the attack.

"Betty and I could not be more thankful to hear that no one was hurt in these deplorable attacks. Offering oneself up for public service, whether as an elected official or as a staffer, should never result in the threat of physical violence. While we all have deeply held beliefs, the very foundation of our nation’s ideology rest upon the ideal that we not turn to violence to express our disagreements, regardless of how vehemently we disagree. Betty and I are keeping Wendy, her family and her staff in our thoughts and prayers in the wake of this senseless attack."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Texas barely passes state integrity test

The Center for Public Integrity released its State Integrity Investigation Monday. Texas received a D+ grade when it comes to government corruptibility, ranking 27th among all 50 states.

The Lone Star State received an F in the categories of Public Access to Information, Executive Accountability and Redistricting. The state’s only A was in the Internal Auditing category.

The author of the Texas portion of the study, Kelley Shannon, writes that although state laws, such as the Texas Public Information Act, are strong, actions by state officials and lawmakers often inhibit how that law is implemented.

"[Texas] has a long way to go when it comes to holding state officials fully accountable, government watchdogs say. In keeping political agendas separate from official state business at the highest levels of government, they say Texas also falls short," Shannon writes.

No state received an A+ rating. The best score went to New Jersey, the worst to Georgia.
Keith Elkins is the executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He says part of what led to Texas’ D+ grade for public integrity is problems with implementing the Texas Public Information Act.

"You wouldn’t find this acceptable if your child brought home a near failing grade on a report card,” Elkins said. “You shouldn’t find it acceptable for elected officials who write the laws and cut themselves out in loopholes, which resulted in this near failing grade as well."

Some public officials incorrectly say they have 10 days to respond to information requests. However, that is really just the cutoff for the agency to request an attorney general’s opinion if there’s a problem.

"Lawmakers can change this,” Elkins said. “Lawmakers can basically tell state agencies that if you get caught abusing this, you’re going to have to pay a fine or something else — but they’re going to have to do it in legislation."

Austin bureau chief for the Dallas Morning News, Christy Hoppe, has seen the issues with the Texas Public Information Act firsthand. She sent in a recent request to find out what state business Gov. Perry had accomplished since his failed presidential bid.

“How basic is it for somebody to hand over the governor’s schedule, when he’s already had that schedule? It’s sitting on somebody’s desk," she said. "It took them 15 days to get back to me with what he had been doing for two weeks."

No matter the circumstance, if there’s an effort to withhold information, court battles can be timely and costly.

"There is transparency but you have to wait for it, you have to sift through it and you have to claw and nail to get the basic of information that you need to make a judgment on how your government’s working," Hoppe said.

Kelley Shannon will be a guest on "Capital Tonight" this Thursday night to discuss the study. Shannon is married to YNN News Director Michael Pearson.

Democrats: Perry and Abbott playing games with women’s health

The Texas Democratic Party responded to Abbott’s lawsuit. Here’s what they had to say:

“Rick Perry and Greg Abbott are wagering women’s health in their political game of chicken. Rick Perry’s trying to blame his war on women on the federal government but no one’s buying it. Texans have had enough of Perry’s cruel charade. Perry and Abbott should admit they made an epic mistake and stop wasting taxpayer dollars to pay for these purely political lawsuits. It’s sickening that Perry and Abbott are taking their war on women to this level.”

Texas sues federal government over Women’s Health Program cuts

Texas is suing the federal government again–this time over cuts to the Texas Women’s Health Program. Attorney General Greg Abbott is challenging the federal government’s decision to cut funding. He says that decision violates the constitution and breaks federal law.

State law says taxpayer subsidies can’t be spent on abortion providers. Gov. Perry applauded the lawsuit. In a statement he said the Obama Administration’s decision was purely political.

"The Obama Administration’s decision to deny health care to more than 100,000 low-income Texas women demonstrates his unwavering allegiance to abortion providers and their affiliates. As I have made clear, I will not stand by and let this Administration abandon these Texas women to advance its political agenda; Texas will fund these services with or without the federal government. This is about life and the rule of law, which Texas respects and the Obama Administration does not. I applaud Attorney General Greg Abbott’s swift action to defend our state’s laws and our ability to carry out the will of Texans."

The program has about 130,000 low-income participants, and federal funds had covered 90 percent of its costs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

You can see the lawsuit for yourself here:

Voter ID and women’s health cuts peg Perry against Washington

Gov. Perry said Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which is being challenged by Attorney General Greg Abbott, doesn’t "hold water anymore." Perry defended the state’s Voter ID law Friday morning on Fox News Channel, saying state officials have evidence of voting fraud in Texas.

"It goes without saying that in today’s world, having a photo ID, whether it’s to get on an airplane, or whether it’s to cash a check, or whether it’s to check a library book out, it’s pretty standard fare," Perry said. "There’s obviously those who would like to fraudulently impact elections, and therefore they are against having a photo ID. Otherwise it makes all the sense in the world."

He also took aim, again, at the federal government over the Women’s Health Program, and maintained the program isn’t going away.

"This administration, in clear violation of the Tenth Amendment, they’re just playing politics. We’re going to make sure that these low income, 100,000-plus women have those services. But, again, it’s an exposure of this administration’s clear politics that they’re playing to try and use this as a wedge issue," Perry said.

You can watch the entire interview here:

Texas takes Voter ID battle to the next level

Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed an amended complaint to a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s decision to reject the state’s Voter Identification legislation.

Now, the state is taking it one step further. It wants Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act declared unconstitutional. That is the section of the law that requires Texas and some southern states to get federal approval for any election law changes.

The Voter ID legislation falls in that category, as do Texas’ redistricting maps. The Department of Justice denied preclearance for Voter ID, Monday. That case is now being considered by a Washington D.C. district court, which will decide if the case should go to trial.

We are still awaiting a decision from a three judge panel in Washington on preclearance for those maps. In the meantime, a San Antonio district court has drawn up interim maps that will be used for the 2012 election.

It its complaint, the state argues that Section 5 "exceeds the enumerated powers of Congress and conflicts with Article IV of the Constitution as well as the 10th Amendment," and should be declared unconstitutional.

Perry Iowa campaign chair supports gay marriage in op-ed

Kathy Potts, a former Perry Iowa Campaign chair, says she supports gay marriage, and believes the Republican party should change its position. In an opinion piece for Eastern Iowa’s Gazette, Potts writes that all Republicans should support marriage equality as part of the party’s commitment to protecting freedom.

"I heard a lot of rhetoric about gay and lesbian Americans that didn’t fit with what I know to be true and what many Republicans believe. As an evangelical Christian Republican, I know many people who hold conservative values like equality and freedom, but those voices were lost this year," Potts writes. "However, I believe in my heart that things are changing. If it weren’t for the loud voices of a few in our party, I do believe more Republicans would stand up in support of marriage equality."

Despite Gingrich-Perry ticket talk, more Texas candidates back Santorum

There are rumors Gov. Perry could be Vice President Perry if Newt Gingrich is elected president. But, with Gingrich low on delegates, this scenario is virtually impossible. Perhaps that’s why so many Texas officials and candidates are throwing their support behind Rick Santorum for president. State Comptroller Susan Combs endorsed Santorum over the weekend, calling him "a true conservative who seeks freedom for Americans from the present crushing regulatory burden." She went on to say, in a statement, "I believe he represents the best hope for the Republican Party in our efforts to change the direction of the country."

In her statement Combs said she looks forward to campaigning for Santorum.

U.S. Senate Candidate Craig James will kick off what he’s calling his "Pro-Santorum Campaign Tour" Tuesday in Midland. He is planning to hold events across the state.

“It’s critical to have a conservative Congress, but the most important race this year is for president. That’s why it’s so important to rally the troops here in Texas and make sure Rick Santorum gets the Lone Star State’s 155 delegates," James said in a statement.

Senate candidate roundup

David Dewhurst

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is touting endorsements from six former Dallas County Republican Party Chairmen, on his website. That list included:

• Hon. Nate Crain
• Hon. Bob Driegert
• Hon. Kenn George
• Hon. Tom James
• Hon. Fred Meyer
• Hon. Jonathan Neerman

Ted Cruz

Senate Candidate Ted Cruz released two radio ads today. The one below is titled ‘Delivered.’ In it, Cruz touts his time as solicitor general, calling himself a ‘proven conservative leader, who delivers result.’

Craig James

Fox’s Daryl Johnston switched his endorsement this weekend, announcing he would support former ESPN analyst, Craig James. Johnston had initially backed former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert. Both men played for Texas football.

Tom Leppert

Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert is urging people to sign a petition telling tell President Obama that we "need real leadership and bold solutions, not trillions more in crushing debt."