Archive for August, 2013

Dewhurst’s GOP opponents take criticism to social media

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s opponents are using a controversial phone call in their latest campaign attacks. Earlier this month, Dewhurst placed a call to the Allen, Texas police department in an effort to get an arrested relative out of jail. Police released an audio recording of that call, yesterday.

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples took to Twitter, likening Dewhurst to the fictional anchor Ron Burgundy, from the  film Anchorman. He tweeted “In the words of Ron “Stay Classy,” accompanied by the photo on the right. Another tweet read, “Dew’s call to Allen PD sounds like Anchorman Ron Burgundy: “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.”

Sen. Dan Patrick also took to social media to slam Dewhurst’s actions. Overnight, he updated his recently launched “Dewfeed,” to include a new “Dog Days of Dewhurst” GIF.

The other GOP candidate in the lieutenant governor race, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, has yet to weigh in on the controversy.

For his part, a Dewhurst spokesman released this statement:

“David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures.”

 

DOJ to file suit against Texas’ Voter ID Law

The Department of Justice will file a lawsuit challenging Texas’ Voter ID Law. In announcing the suit, the DOJ named the State of Texas, the Texas Secretary of State, and the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The DOJ believes that the law “violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the voting guarantees of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.”

In addition to the suit focused on Voter ID, the department also filed a motion to intervene in the ongoing redistricting case being considered by a federal three-judge panel in San Antonio.

“Today’s action marks another step forward in the Justice Department’s continuing effort to protect the voting rights of all eligible Americans,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement released today. “We will not allow the Supreme Court’s recent decision to be interpreted as open season for states to pursue measures that suppress voting rights. The Department will take action against jurisdictions that attempt to hinder access to the ballot box, no matter where it occurs. We will keep fighting aggressively to prevent voter disenfranchisement.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had announced that the Voter ID Law would take effect immediately, following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding part of the Voting Rights Act. That ruling suspended federal pre-clearance requirements for states with a history of discrimination in voting matters. The Justices determined that the pre-clearance formula was dated. Congress would have to come up with a new formula for that portion of the Voting Rights Act to be valid once again.

Lt. Gov. Dewhurst call to police draws criticism

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is facing criticism after calling the Allen police department in an attempt to help a family member who’d been arrested. As was first reported by the NBC affiliate in Dallas, Dewhurst personally contacted a police sergeant in an effort to assist his nephew’s wife, who’d been jailed for shoplifting from a Kroger’s grocery store.

Police released the audio recording of the call, Wednesday night. Lt. Gov. Dewhurst can be heard identifying himself. “I just got a call from my step-sister, whose daughter in-law, Ellen Beavers, was arrested. I think, this is me, on a mistaken charge,” he said. “If you would explain to me, sergeant, what I need to do, to arrange getting her out of jail this evening and you can proceed with whatever you think is proper.

Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine released a statement, saying:

“David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures.”

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Perry appoints former chief of staff to Public Utility Commission

Gov. Rick Perry’s recently departed chief of staff will now serve on the state’s Public Utility Commission. Perry announced today that Brandy Marty would join the three-person commission, effective immediately. The PUC is responsible for regulating the state’s electric and telecommunications utilities.

Marty has most recently served as Perry’s chief of staff. She was also his deputy chief of staff, worked as a Texas House liaison and was a policy director on the governor’s 2010 primary campaign.

In a statement, Perry said:

“Brandy is a passionate public servant with a deep knowledge of state government and the issues critical to Texas’ continued success. She is well respected by her colleagues and officials across state government and is known as a capable and effective leader. Her experience and skills will be a major asset to the PUC as they continue their important work for our state.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Perry announced that Kathy Walt would take over as chief of staff. She had most recently been working for the Lower Colorado River Authority and served in the past as deputy chief of staff.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Texas lawmakers making waves nationally

Money from the Affordable Care Act could be coming to Texas after all, and new reports show Gov. Rick Perry is behind the move. Meanwhile, Sen. Ted Cruz’s national profile continues to rise, even amid questions about his citizenship.

In Monday’s episode, we look at those developing stories, along with new funding at the state level that could help ease a longstanding backlog for criminal investigators.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us Tuesday to talk about the latest on Perry and Cruz, including whether any news is good news when it comes to the junior Senator’s chances in a presidential run.

TRIB FEST PREVIEW

It’s a festival for more than just political wonks, and it’s just around the corner. We sat down with Texas Tribune Editor in Chief Evan Smith about next month’s Texas Tribune Festival.

Report: Perry willing to accept $100 million in Affordable Care Act funds

Gov. Rick Perry is negotiating with the Obama administration to accept Affordable Care Act money. As first reported by Politicostate health aides are in negotiations with the Obama administration to work out a deal that would allow the state to collect $100 million of Affordable Care Act money.

The federal funds would come from Community First Choice option, which is aimed at improving in-home services for disabled and elderly patients. The legislature approved the program this session. Now, according to Politico, Perry is asking the Obama administration to provide matching funds. About 12,000 Texans would benefit from the expansion.

The move comes as a surprise to many, as Gov. Perry has been one of the most outspoken critics of President Obama’s health care overhaul plan. He has repeatedly vowed that the state would not expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has repeatedly called it a “broken system.”

Perry spokesman Josh Havens says Texas has provided these types of services via medicaid waivers for decades. He issued this statement:

“Long before Obamacare was forced on the American people, Texas was implementing policies to provide those with intellectual disabilities more community options to enable them to live more independent lives at a lower cost to taxpayers. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will continue to move forward with these policies because they are right for our citizens and our state, regardless of whatever funding schemes may be found in Obamacare.”

 

McCaul unseated as richest member of Congress

U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul is now the second richest member of Congress. According to The Hill newspaper, the Austin Republican is worth about $101 million. Much of McCaul’s money comes from family trusts. His wife is the daughter of Clear Channel Communications founder Lowry Mays. 

For the last two years, McCaul ranked at the very top of the 50 richest members of Congress. According to the paper, McCaul reported the family’s holdings differently last year, which resulted in his drop on the list.

Rep. McCaul was unseated by House Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa. Issa, who earned his wealth with the Viper car security system, is worth an estimated $355 million.

 

 

Gov. Perry taking jobs tour to Missiouri

Missouri will be the latest stop on Gov. Rick Perry’s “Wide Open for Business” road show. Perry will visit the state on August 29. A 30-second TV ad began airing today, ahead of the governor’s visit. Perry plans to meet with business leaders and owners and will attend a luncheon at the Missouri Chamber of Commerce.

This is just the latest state Perry has visited to tout Texas’ job market and economic growth. Earlier this year, he made trips to California, New York and Illinois. As in the past, the group Texas One is footing the bill for Perry’s travels and the $106,400 ad buy.

Special prosecutor named to investigate Perry criminal complaint

A special prosecutor has been assigned to handle the criminal complaint filed against Governor Rick Perry. District Judge Robert Richardson today appointed San Antonio attorney Michael McCrum as the attorney Pro Tem.

The watchdog group Texans for Public Justice claims Perry abused his power and broke several laws when he threatened to veto funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. Perry hoped his threat would force Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her drunk driving arrest and conviction. Lehmberg refused, and Perry ultimately used a line item veto to strip more than $7 million from the unit.

As District Attorney, Lehmberg oversees that department. Texans for Public Justice says Perry used the power of his office in an attempt to coerce the District Attorney’s office. Lehmberg herself has accused Perry of playing politics with his threat. If Lehmberg, who is a Democrat, did step down, Republican Gov. Perry would appoint her replacement.

McCrum is a San Antonio based trial lawyer. According to his website, he has focused on white collar crimes as well as federal and state government investigations. He will lead an investigation into the complaint to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward. His findings could ultimately lead to a trial.


Paxton picks up Santorum endorsement in Attorney General race

Former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum is throwing his support behind Sen. Ken Paxton in his efforts to become attorney general. The Paxton campaign released this video, today.

Paxton is looking to replace current Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for governor. He will face Rep. Dan Branch and Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman in the GOP primary. No democrats have announced their intentions to run.