Gov. Rick Perry
Aug 16th - 2:55 pm
The governor gave a brief, strongly worded statement Saturday afternoon, defending his veto of funding for the state’s Public Integrity Unit, headed by District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. In a prepared statement that lasted less than three minutes, Perry said his actions were within his executive authority and that the case against him is purely political.
You can read the governor’s full statement below and watch the full press conference here.
“As governor, I took an oath to faithfully uphold the constitution of Texas, a pledge that I have kept every day as I’ve worked on behalf of Texans for the last 14 years. This same constitution clearly outlines the authority of any governor to veto items at his or her discretion. Just as I have following every legislative session during my service as governor, I exercised this authority to veto funding for an office whose leadership had lost the public’s confidence by acting inappropriately and unethically.
“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally stand behind my veto, and will continue to defend this lawful action of my executive authority as governor. We don’t settle political differences with indictments in this country. It is outrageous that some would use partisan political theatrics to rip away at the very fabric of our state’s constitution.
“This indictment amounts to nothing more than an abuse of power and I cannot, and will not, allow that to happen. I intend to fight against those who would erode our state’s constitution and laws purely for political purposes, and I intend to win. I will explore every legal avenue to expedite this matter and bring it to a swift conclusion. I am confident we will ultimately prevail, that this farce of a prosecution will be revealed for what it is, and that those responsible will be held to account.”
Aug 15th - 8:15 pm
The governor or Texas has been indicted. Friday evening, a grand jury found that Gov. Rick Perry can be prosecuted on two felony counts: abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant.
The charges stem from last legislative session, when the governor threatened to slash state funding from the Public Integrity Unit unless Democratic Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned after her drunk driving arrest. Lehmberg refused to resign and the governor carried through on that threat. The unit, which investigates allegations against elected officials across the state, operates out of the Travis County DA’s Office. Lehmberg is a Democrat, and if she had resigned, Perry, a Republican, would have been able to appoint her replacement.
You can see the full indictment below:
Jul 23rd - 11:50 am
The fate of the Affordable Care Act is once again in the hands of the courts. A federal appeals court dealt a critical blow to a key component of Obamacare Tuesday. Then, just hours later, another panel ruled to keep the law in tact.
In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained how the decisions could put subsidies for health insurance at risk and what that could mean for nearly 600,000 Texans counting on them.
The surge of immigrant children continues, while Congressional action is delayed another day.
We spoke to Congressman Roger Williams about whether any legislative answer has a chance of passing.
Plus, Gov. Rick Perry has officially called in the cavalry to help DPS officials at the Texas-Mexico border. Is the move a practical solution or political stunt? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.
Jul 21st - 8:07 pm
Gov. Rick Perry is calling for military backup to deal with the border crisis. The governor joined other state leaders Monday in announcing the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to learn more about what role the troops will play, how the operation will be funded and the legal basis for the deployment.
While state Republicans are praising the move, others are calling it a “militarization” of the border and an unnecessary step. We spoke to Denise Gilman of the UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, who says legal — not military — resources are needed more.
Plus, a high-profile activist gets reprimanded by the Texas Ethics Commission. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave us the background on that story and more.
Jul 21st - 3:21 pm
Minutes after Gov. Rick Perry announced the details of a plan to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, Texas Democrats and border-area business leaders responded with criticism.
In a press release, the Texas Democratic Party characterized Perry’s decision as political posturing.
“Local law enforcement, elected officials, and faith and community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley have expressed concerned about militarizing the border, the need to create a short-term humanitarian solution, and solving the long-term need for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, Governor Rick Perry ignored those voices. While those in the Valley are working hard to care for thousands of children in need and demanding we fix our broken immigration system, Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations.”
Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running to replace Perry as governor, said that National Guard troops weren’t necessary. Instead, she said the real need is for additional law enforcement personnel and reiterated her call for a special session to discuss extra funding for local law officials dealing with the surge of immigrants.
“If the federal government won’t act, Texas must and will. However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for rather than Texas National Guard units who aren’t even authorized to make arrests. Therefore, I reiterate my call for Governor Perry to immediately convene for an emergency legislative session to provide the resources to get additional law enforcement personnel on the ground immediately.”
Meanwhile, a group of business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley area is expressing concern about what effect the presence of National Guard troops will have on the local economy. They sent out a press release asking the governor to reconsider.
“Adding a military presence to our communities will only create an inaccurate image that our safe and viable border region in the Rio Grande Valley is dangerous, and that the problem is not presently being managed, which is not the case. This erroneous impression can harm our attempts to recruit new businesses. We respectfully ask the governor to rescind his orders to send the National Guard to the border.”
The group is made up of business leaders of the Rio Grande Valley and the Rio South Texas Economic Council. They pointed out new reports from the White House, which show that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has dropped from 355 per day in June to about 150 children apprehended in the first two weeks of July.
Jul 11th - 7:05 pm
After a rough week for the University of Texas’ leadership, we sat down with Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune, Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News, and Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle to decode how regents, lawmakers and student leaders really feel about President Bill Powers.
Powers was the center of several controversies, and his recent timeline for resignation has people talking in both the Texas government and the University of Texas school system.
Obama was the talk of the town this week when he stopped by Austin. Although the visit to Texas was originally just for fundraising, a large portion was shared with Gov. Rick Perry, who managed to get a meeting with the president over the recent crisis along the border. Our Reporter Roundtable looked at the politics behind the visit.
While efforts to increase funding are stalled, nonprofit organizations are picking up the slack when it comes to caring for the thousands of immigrant children detained at Texas’ southern border. The organizations, including Roy Maas Youth Alternatives and RAICES, offer shelter and basic needs to the children affected.
Plus, we checked in on the grand jury hearing looking into whether Gov. Perry abused his powers last session, when he threatened to defund the state’s Public Integrity Unit.
Jul 9th - 8:37 pm
The simmering conflict between the Board of Regents and UT Austin President Bill Powers has cooled down for now. University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has accepted Powers’ offer to stay on until June of 2015, after initially demanding President Powers’ resignation by Thursday. At a faculty meeting on campus, Powers addressed supporters and explained his plan moving forward.
Meanwhile, immigration issues jumped back into the spotlight Wednesday, during President Barack Obama’s visit to Texas. After touching down in Dallas, the president accompanied Gov. Rick Perry in Marine One to discuss border control and the current immigration crisis.
In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard the president’s response to Perry’s suggestions, and how local business leaders are framing the immigration issue.
While both sides of the political aisle are blaming each other for inaction, faith-based volunteers are already making a difference behind the scenes. Jeffery Patterson of the Texas Catholic Conference joined us to discuss the nonprofit’s outreach and his concerns for the Central American children and families crossing the border.
San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro’s time has finally come. In Washington D.C., Mayor Castro was officially confirmed as Housing and Urban Development Secretary. The Senate voted 71-26 to appoint Castro to the position.
We checked in from San Antonio, where Castro talked about his and the city’s political future. Plus, Harvey Kronberg from The Quorum Report sat down with us to review all the day’s issues, from immigration to political power games.
Jun 20th - 7:30 pm
In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the latest twist in the long-running court battle over how the state funds public education.
The future of the school finance case, Hillary Clinton’s book-tour crowds, and Gov. Rick Perry’s trip to California were all big topics this week. We sat down with Ross Ramsey from the Texas Tribune and Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle to discuss those issues and more.
Gov. Perry weighed in on immigration this week, saying more non-Mexicans are crossing over than ever before, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte insisted Mexico is our number one trading partner. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to evaluate those claims and give the official “Truth-O-Meter” ruling.
Jun 20th - 5:15 pm
Gov. Rick Perry is asking for more help from the federal government to combat a flood of illegal immigration along the Texas-Mexico border. In a letter to President Obama, Perry requested 1,000 National Guard troops and permission to use Predator drones to identify human trafficking. He also asked the administration to reassess policies that release undocumented children to their families until they can be processed and possibly deported.
“In the current system, these notices effectively amount to a ‘free pass’ into our country with little to no consequences for failure to comply,” Perry said. The governor also invited President Obama to visit Texas and tour the facilities where the children are being held.
The state’s leadership has already pledged to send a surge of Department of Public Safety troopers to combat illegal activity along the border and signed off on an extra $1.3 million a week to fund border security operations.
Earlier Friday, President Obama announced he would create a task force to handle the influx of children crossing the border illegally. Obama called it an “urgent humanitarian situation” and said the administration is opening new detention facilities to house families. The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t said how many families will be kept in the new immigration jails or where they’ll be located.
Gov. Perry said while he is encouraged by the new initiatives, “the steps only address symptoms of the problem.”
According to the White House, an estimated 60,000 minors will enter the United States without their parents this year. Most of them are coming from Central American countries including Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
You can read Gov. Perry’s full letter to President Obama, below.
May 21st - 4:19 pm
Gov. Rick Perry today issued a statement of support for UT System Regent Wallace Hall. A select House committee is drawing up articles of impeachment against Hall, who has been accused of conducting a “witch hunt” against UT Austin President Bill Powers.
Here’s the governor’s statement:
“Wallace Hall should be commended for his persistence – in the face of overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats – in trying to ensure the institutions of higher education under his purview are operating effectively, efficiently and within the law. Hall is doing exactly what every regent and every appointee in the State of Texas should be doing: asking tough questions, gathering facts and searching for the truth. Even the chairman of the Board of Regents has said Hall did not commit an impeachable offense or a crime. Texans should be outraged by his treatment, and deeply concerned it will have a chilling effect on those who are tasked with the oversight of state agencies and institutions that they are responsible for.”