Aaron Franco

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Capital Tonight: Polling director defends results against Democratic group’s criticism

Legalizing gambling is an decades-old debate in Texas, and a new dustup over bingo hall regulations may be a sign that state lawmakers won’t be ready to make the leap anytime soon.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained the fight over a popular pull-tab game and why it could carry over into the next legislative session.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS

New poll numbers show Texas Democrats with double-digit deficits to overcome in order to win in 2014, but the results are drawing criticism from Lone Star Project, a political strategy group aligned with Democrats that’s claiming faulty methodology.

We sat down with Public Policy Polling director Tom Jensen to defend the results and go behind the numbers.

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ON THE AGENDA

Gov. Rick Perry is popping up in the polls again, and the results are night-and-day compared to his 2012 campaign. Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report joined us to analyze his surge in popularity.

Capital Tonight: Political world reacts to Castro-Patrick debate on immigration

It started out as a Twitter spat, but on Tuesday night, Sen. Dan Patrick and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro finally met face-to-face for a debate over immigration reform and border security.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at highlights from the debate, plus we spoke to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose attempts at immigration reform in Washington have drawn widespread attention.

EXPERT INSIGHT

What does our immigration system look like now? The co-director of UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, Denise Gilman joined us to focus on the facts about conditions on the border, the reasons for illegal immigration and more.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

One of the questions in Tuesday night’s debate centered around former state Rep. Aaron Peña, who’s accused both the Democratic Party of taking Hispanics for granted and the Republican Party of going too far with anti-immigrant rhetoric. We sat down with Peña and Democratic strategist Harold Cook to get their take on the debate, and to dig into some new poll numbers on statewide races.

REROUTING DRIVER FINES

The state’s driver responsibility program is getting a second look, after criticism that it unfairly targets low-income Texans. We heard what local judges think about a possible change.

Report on UT regent referred to district attorney’s office

The legislative committee investigating UT Regent Wallace Hall has referred a draft report to Travis County officials for possible criminal prosecution. The report, released last week by special counsel hired to investigate Hall, accuses the regent of “gotcha! governance,” “bullying” and “tarnishing of the reputation of UT Austin.”

The Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations was originally convened to look into Hall’s request for massive amounts of documents from the University of Texas, part of what Rep. Jim Pitts referred to as a “witch-hunt” against UT President Bill Powers. But the draft report went much further, pointing out Hall’s actions during the investigation itself as possible grounds for impeachment. Among other things, the report accuses Hall of attempting to coerce witnesses and the disclosure of confidential student information.

Now, investigators are categorizing their findings as possible criminal violations. In a letter to the full committee, co-chairs Carol Alvarado and Dan Flynn said:

“As Co-Chairs, we believe that the Committee has a responsibility to do all it can to safeguard the credibility of its inquiry, the integrity of our state’s institutions of higher education, and the privacy rights of students at the University of Texas. The report notes that Regent Hall’s conduct with respect to protected student information is serious enough to implicate two possible offenses in the Penal Code. In addition, Regent Hall’s conduct may constitute a criminal offense under the Texas Public Information Act.”

Today, the House Sergeant at Arms sent the full draft report to Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg and County Attorney David Escamilla, along with the letter outlining those same charges.

The joint committee has not officially adopted the report. If they do, they could still refer their investigation to the Texas House for impeachment proceedings. If the House passes articles of impeachment, the Senate would then conduct a trial.

Capital Tonight: Standout moments from the Civil Rights Summit

The legacy of President Lyndon Baines Johnson was honored this week, throughout a three-day summit commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act being signed into law.

Four presidents and numerous civil rights icons, experts, authors and celebrities took part in telling the story of how far we’ve come thanks to Johnson’s efforts and how far we still have to go. In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we highlighted the standout moments from the summit and discussed what they mean for the politics of today.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

From a committee report on UT Regent Wallace Hall to the latest fight in the governor’s race over pre-K education, there was plenty of other political news this week.

We sat down with Christy Hoppe, The Dallas Morning News‘ Austin bureau chief, Texas Tribune reporter Reeve Hamilton, and San Antonio Express-News Austin bureau chief and Houston Chronicle reporter Peggy Fikac to talk about the stories our viewers might have missed.

CHECKING THE FACTS

Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to look into claims made by Congressman Michael McCaul and the Wendy Davis campaign this week.

Capital Tonight: Obama, Bush draw parallels between their accomplishments and LBJ’s

The country’s first black president was a featured speaker on the final day of the LBJ Civil Rights Summit. President Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the three-day event, commemorating the signing of the Civil Rights Act 50 years ago.

The President spoke candidly about President Lyndon Johnson’s struggles to create change in the country, and he drew several comparisons between his presidency and the legacy of LBJ.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how President Obama and former President George W. Bush view their time in office in light of LBJ’s accomplishments.

INCOME INEQUALITY

Segregation may be over, but the income gap between whites and nonwhites is still largely in place. We sat down with economist James Galbraith for a discussion on what income inequality looks like today and the steps lawmakers are taking to curb it.

PROGRESS & POLITICS

Voting laws in Texas were on the minds of many this week. Civil rights activist Jesse Jackson joined us to give his take on that issue. And our political strategists, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, debated more of the political issues unique to Texas.

Wendy Davis to meet privately with President Obama

Sen. Wendy Davis will have a chance to speak one-on-one with the president today. Sources close to the campaign tell Capital Tonight Sen. Davis will meet privately with the president while he’s in Austin.

President Barack Obama is in town for the LBJ Library’s Civil Rights Summit, marking the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. He’s scheduled to arrive at the airport at 10:30 this morning, then head to the University of Texas campus, where the summit is being held.

Sen. Davis has been tapping into the Democratic donor network from all over the country in her bid to be the first Democratic governor elected in Texas since 1991. However, being linked too closely with President Obama in a red state, where he has consistently weak poll numbers since 2009, could hurt her efforts. Her opponent, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, has made suing the Obama administration over federal regulations a key part of his campaign speeches.

The Davis campaign is already connected to the Obama team in one sense: she has a joint fundraising effort with Battleground Texas, a group dedicated to turning Texas blue. The group is made up of several veterans of the president’s 2012 campaign team.

 

Capital Tonight: Civil rights leaders describe struggles and successes

On day two of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Library, the discussion shifted toward the leaders of the movement, the role they played and how they see the world today.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard directly from two of those leaders — former Congressman and United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young and current Rep. John Lewis — about what they’ve accomplished and what they still hope to see done.

FIGHTERS ON THE FIELD

Of course, the fight for racial equality also took place in the world of athletics. We heard from Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown and Celtics legend Bill Russell about the barriers they broke while playing the game.

LBJ’S LEGACY

Apart from civil rights, this week’s summit is also about the legacy of Lyndon Baines Johnson. We spoke one-on-one with one granddaughter of LBJ, Catherine Robb, about how she hopes he’s remembered.

ON THE AGENDA

And the day’s political news didn’t stop during the summit. We spoke to Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report about a new report on UT Regent Wallace Hall and more.

Capital Tonight: Immigration, same-sex marriage drive first day of civil rights summit

It’s been 50 years since the Civil Rights Act became part of the fabric of America. This week, the LBJ Library is honoring Lyndon B. Johnson’s legacy in Austin with a three-day summit on the past, present and future of civil rights.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we took an in-depth look at how the law has rippled through history, plus we spoke to some of the lawmakers dealing with similar issues today.

Click the TWC News logo below to hear a recap of former President Jimmy Carter’s Q&A session, plus one-on-one interviews with San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour about immigration reform.

THEN AND NOW

Former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes was one of many lawmakers who helped transition the state away from laws based on racial discrimination, all in the years during and after LBJ’s presidency. We sat down for an extended interview with Barnes about segregation, civil rights and his role in this week’s summit.

POLITICS OF TODAY

Same-sex marriage is seen by many as a key civil rights issue today. We heard from two lawyers from very different political backgrounds who came together over marriage equality.

Plus, we spoke to political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi about the same-sex marriage debate and more.

 

Capital Tonight: Looking back at a complicated week in politics

After Wednesday’s shooting at Fort Hood, there’s been a renewed call for Congress and the Defense Department to end gun restrictions for service members on military installations. Some lawmakers, including Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, say the suspected shooter could have been stopped sooner if others on post had their weapons on them.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked back at how the original policy came about and why the Department of Defense is arguing against the change.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

From the fight over pre-K plans to a major milestone for health care enrollment, the week brought a wide range of political news. We sat down with Robert Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Alexa Ura of the Texas Tribune and the Quorum Report‘s Scott Braddock to sort out the stories that mattered.

BEHIND THE MUSIC

Plus, Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us for a fascinating fact-check about a climate change musical and whether your tax dollars paid for it.

Capital Tonight: Sen. Cornyn reflects on Fort Hood shooting

Texans and military families across the country are still dealing with shock and sadness, after a shooting that left four people dead and 16 injured Wednesday.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the latest from Fort Hood, and we heard how the Texas delegation in Washington is responding.

NEW FUNDRAISING RULES

The rules for campaign finance are changing again, after the latest Supreme Court ruling. What effect will it have here in Texas? Election law attorney Ed Shack joined us to explain.

 

VIEW FROM THE SENATE

Before his trip to Fort Hood, Sen. John Cornyn was busy in Washington this week. He joined us for a one-on-one interview via satellite about the Supreme Court ruling, the Affordable Care Act and more.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Plus, we heard from Republican strategist Rob Johnson and Democratic strategist Harold Cook about a recent shift in Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign.