Decision 2014

Capital Tonight: Death penalty opponents respond to last-minute stay of execution

A Texas execution planned for Tuesday was called off just hours before it was set to happen. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay based on new claims that inmate Robert Campbell was intellectually disabled, which would make him ineligible for the death penalty.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to the head of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Kristin Houlé, about the botched Oklahoma execution, the secrecy surrounding execution drugs, and whether attitudes about the death penalty are changing.


The fight for lieutenant governor continues, but what happens if the Senate decides to strip the eventual winner of some of his authority? We spoke to Harvey Kronberg of the Quorum Report about the ways that scenario has played out before and how it could happen again.


Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is doubling down on his endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst by appearing in a new campaign ad. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that development and more.

Patterson appears in new ad supporting Dewhurst

Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson is taking his recent endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst a step further, by appearing in a new campaign ad.

Entitled “Dan is Not the Man,” the ad features Patterson sitting at a table, cleaning his guns and telling the stories behind them. It’s not until halfway through the ad that Patterson introduces himself and talks about his former opponent in the Republican primary race for lieutenant governor, Sen. Dan Patrick.

“It’s pretty clear to me that Dan Patrick is not the right choice for Texas, and that David Dewhurst is,” Patterson says.

Patterson initially declined to endorse anyone after coming in fourth in the primary race, but got behind Dewhurst last week. Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who was also a candidate for lieutenant governor, has so far decided not to back either candidate.



Sen. Paxton’s hometown police association withdraws endorsement

A second police association has withdrawn its endorsement of Sen. Ken Paxton in his run for state attorney general, this time in his hometown of McKinney.

In a letter posted online Sunday, McKinney Police Association President Jose Quiles cited the recent reprimand from the Texas State Securities Board over Sen. Paxton’s work as an unregistered financial adviser. The letter is also attributed to the head of the association’s political action committee, Farrel Ritchie.

“Given that the Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the State of Texas, the McKinney Police Association feels it is necessary to protect the integrity of the office and can no longer support Ken Paxton for Attorney General,” Quiles and Ritchie said.

The Republican attorney general candidate has been surrounded by ethical questions, following reports that he had done work soliciting clients for a financial firm without registering with the Securities Board. Sen. Paxton had also failed to disclose his work on various nonprofit boards to the Ethics Commission. He’s since amended those filings.

His opponent in the runoff race for attorney general, Rep. Dan Branch, has called on him to drop out of the race. Branch came in second in a three-way primary race that included Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman. Branch’s campaign says their internal polling shows them shrinking the nearly 11-point gap seen in the primary.

Earlier this month, the Allen Police Association also withdrew its support, citing the same problems with regulatory authorities.


Read the full letter from the McKinney Police Association below:


McKinney Police Press Release 5/11/14 by Patrick Perry

Capital Tonight: Reporters break down a bizarre week in Texas politics

A House committee could soon decide whether to recommend the impeachment of a UT regent. But what exactly does that process look like?

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke with Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who was there the last time a state official was impeached — nearly four decades ago.


From a contentious debate in Dallas over trusworthiness to an an online video put out by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called the “Ballad of Dannie Goeb,” it’s fair to say this was an odd week in Texas politics. We sat down with Wayne Slater of The Dallas Morning News and Jay Root of the Texas Tribune to put it all in context.


The governor’s race has seen its share of serious accusations as well. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to sort out whether they’re true.

Branch picks up Smitherman endorsement in AG race

There are new signs of trouble for Sen. Ken Paxton’s campaign for attorney general. Railroad Commissioner Barry Smitherman announced Thursday that he is endorsing Paxton’s Republican opponent, Rep. Dan Branch. Smitherman placed third behind Branch and Paxton in the Republican primary.

Paxton, who came in first in the primary, has been under fire in recent weeks after questions were raised about possible ethics and disclosure violations. Last week, Paxton was fined $1,000 for work he did with a financial services firm without registering with the State Securities Board.

While praising Branch, Smitherman said Paxton’s legal troubles played a key role in his decision. In a statement Smitherman said:

While experience, leadership, and legal skills are important, perhaps the most important of all qualities needed to be Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer in the State of Texas, is an unwavering commitment to compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the law.  The Attorney General must have integrity, honesty, and high moral character.

Sen. Paxton’s recent admission that he broke the law when he failed to register with the State Securities Board, during a period of time when he was actively soliciting investments on behalf of “Fritz” Mowery, is very troubling.  He also failed to disclose his employment as an investment advisor to his legal clients, a possible violation of the State Bar’s rules for professional responsibility.   As a result of his admission of guilt, Sen. Paxton was recently fined and reprimanded by the Securities Board for multiple violations of the Texas Securities Act.

Remaining open is the question of whether he committed any violations of United States’ securities laws, which would be prosecuted by Eric Holder’s Dept. of Justice, during the years (2008 to 2012) when Mowery Capital Management was under federal rather than state jurisdiction.

For these and other reasons, I am supporting Dan Branch for Attorney General.


Update: Ron Paul endorses David Dewhurst

Updated to include Dewhurst statement.

Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul has endorsed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in his GOP primary runoff re-election bid. Dewhurst faces State Sen. Dan Patrick, who came in first in the four-candidate field back in March.

According to a story by Brietbart Texas, Paul’s support of Dewhurst comes following Thursday’s endorsement of Dewhurst by former lieutenant governor candidate, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson.

Paul, a former presidential candidate with a huge following from both Tea Party faithful and Libertarians, had endorsed Patterson during the primary. Patterson ended in fourth place in the initial field of candidates that also included Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, who came in third. Staples has said he will not endorse anyone in the runoff.


Dewhurst released this statement in response to Paul’s endorsement:

“I am humbled to earn the support of a straight-talking Texan like Ron Paul. As well as anyone, he shares my deep and abiding concern that an out-of-control federal government is one of the greatest threats to individual liberties in our time. That concern has driven my successful efforts to stop the expansion of Medicaid, keep Texas out of the Obamacare exchanges and secure funding to secure the Texas border in the face of Washington’s abject failure. As his supporters get a closer look at my track record of cutting taxes, limiting spending and keeping government out of people’s way. I look forward celebrating a victory with them after the runoff vote on May 27th and again in November.”


Jerry Patterson lists Top 10 reasons he is not endorsing Dan Patrick

Land Commissioner and former lieutenant governor candidate Jerry Patterson made his endorsement of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst official, today. He did it in true Patterson form, with a Late Show style Top 10 reasons he is not supporting Sen. Dan Patrick.

Listed among the reasons is an accusation that Sen. Patrick dodged the draft during the Vietnam war. “I’m a retired Marine with 24 years of service. I’m a Vietnam veteran. My son is a Marine, currently on active duty. Military service is a big deal to me,” Patterson said. “It’s my view that Dan Patrick needs to explain how he failed to be drafted in 1970, 1971 or 1972.” 

According to Patterson, based on the draft lottery system and Patrick’s date of birth, he would have been called into service, unless he had a deferment. We have reached out to the Patrick campaign about the accusation. They said Patrick was drafted but was excused for medical reasons. We are expecting more details in a press release, later today.





Dueling ‘Frozen’ themed attacks in Lt. Gov. race

Sen. Dan Patrick is firing back on Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s latest attack ad with his own “Frozen” themed response. He posted this
GIF-filled attack on his anti-Dewhurst website, DewFeed. It lashes out at Dewhurst for “lying about Patrick to hide his failed record,” and leading the Senate to “pass an expansion of in-state tuition and free healthcare for illegal immigrants.”

The website addition was in response to a new web ad released earlier by the Dewhurst campaign, called “The Ballad of Dannie Goeb.”

This latest round of online sparring comes just hours after the two Republicans faced off in a what can be described as nothing less than a grudge match in Dallas this morning.


New Dewhurst ad: ‘The Ballad of Dannie Goeb’

Just when we’d thought we’d seen it all in the increasingly ugly race for lieutenant governor comes The Ballad of Dannie Goeb. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst released this new web ad following a heated and animosity-filled debate in Dallas this morning.

The ad features Sen. Dan Patrick, sometimes clad in a princess dress, other times painted “Oilers Blue,” singing to the theme song from Frozen. The video speaks for itself:

Capital Tonight: Rep. Pickett maps out transportation funding options

A familiar political controversy has resurfaced in the race for Texas governor.

Democratic candidate Wendy Davis is accusing her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, of failing to do his job overseeing the state’s cancer-fighting agency. But as Davis denounced her opponent’s actions at an East Austin event Tuesday morning, Abbott supporters were there with a rebuttal.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we took a closer look at how Attorney General Abbott is connected to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and how his campaign team is responding.


The search for a long-term funding solution for Texas transportation continues. We checked in on a House committee looking at all the options, and we sat down with the committee’s chairman, Rep. Joe Pickett.


Sen. Ken Paxton’s campaign for Texas attorney general suffered another blow after a police association withdrew its endorsement. Our political strategists, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, weighed in on that development and more.