Gov. Rick Perry
May 15th - 11:59 am
Our Daily Digest is a lunchtime look at the stories we have our eyes on at the Capitol and beyond. Here’s what we are watching today:
Starting with major news outside the Capitol, we’re expecting to know in less than three weeks whether former Governor Rick Perry will run for president. Perry’s wife, Anita, tweeted out an invitation this morning to an event in Dallas on June 4th with the caption, “@GovernorPerry and I have been discussing the future of this great country and how our family can play a role.” It’s widely assumed Perry will once again run for president. He has been traveling across the country for months speaking at events in key early primary states. Of course Perry ran for president back in 2012, and was a brief front-runner, before fading from the lead in the primary.
Governor Abbott signed another bill into law this morning. Senate Bill 788 requires direct dialing of 911 from multiple-line telephone systems. The bill was filed after a murder of Kari Rene Hunt in Marshall back in 2013. Her young daughter tried calling 911, but never reached the police because the phone required her to dial “9” to get an outside line. Governor Abbott released this statement:
“There’s a lesson virtually every parent teaches their child – if you face an emergency, call 9-1-1. I am signing Kari’s Law to ensure that whenever there is an emergency, any child and any adult who dials 9-1-1 is going to be able to connect with emergency personnel to ensure they come to the rescue of those who need help the most.”
And finally, the dust is still settling from House deadline day. State representatives had until midnight Thursday to get preliminary approval on legislation that originated in their chamber. Texas House Democrats dragged their feet all day with stall tactics called “chubbing,” and successfully kept a controversial anti-gay marriage bill from ever being debated. The Republican-led effort was meant to be used to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if gay marriage is legalized, by prohibiting state government employees from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Democrats stalled with lengthy debates over noncontroversial issues, and took a lot of time trying to pass a measure to raise the state minimum wage — which ultimately failed. Earlier in the day, Representative Jimmie Don Aycock took down his school finance reform bill to try to speed up the process, saying he didn’t want to take up too much of the chamber’s time with a bill that he didn’t think had a chance in the Senate.
For more on all of these stories, check out tonight’s episode of “Capital Tonight.” We’ll be joined by three members of the capitol press corps on our reporter roundtable: Jay Root with the Texas Tribune, Ben Philpott with KUT and Christy Hoppe with the Dallas Morning News. Then Gardner Selby with Politifact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman will fact-check recent comments by Rep. Garnet Coleman (D – TX House District 147) and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Tune in tonight at 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Time Warner Cable News.
Jan 30th - 11:44 am
Governor Rick Perry’s legal team is taking another shot at having his criminal indictments thrown out. His lawyers filed a third motion Friday asking a judge to void both abuse of power charges against him.
A judge ruled earlier this week to uphold the indictments, but also asked Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum to correct vagueness in the description of both counts. Perry’s motion said the abuse of official capacity charge is too vague and fails to allege an offense. They say the second charge, coercion of a public official, fails to mention the manner and means of the alleged threat; whether it was spoken, written or delivered through a third party.
Friday’s motion read:
“Both counts against Perry should be voided for violating the U.S. and state constitutions’ requirement that defendants be given adequate notice of the ‘nature and cause’ of the allegations so they can prepare a defense.”
Perry faces charges of abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant over accusations he threatened to veto funding for the Travis County Public Integrity Unit after District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg’s drunk driving arrest and conviction. He then followed through on that threat with a line-item veto of Public Integrity Unit funding.
In addition fo Friday’s filing, Perry’s lawyers have also appealed Tuesday’s decision to the all-Republican third court of appeals in Austin.
Dec 3rd - 3:06 pm
Governor Rick Perry has reversed his stance on E-Verify.
He’s now ordering state agencies to use the system to make sure those applying for state jobs or working for contractors are in the country legally. Four years ago, Perry criticized the federal E-Verify system, saying it “would not make a ‘hill of beans’ difference when it comes to what’s happening in America.”
At a Wednesday news conference, the governor said the system has been improved. Under E-Verify, employers can enter in names and Social Security numbers of new hires. That will let them know whether they are citizens or have proper visas for employment.
At the news conference, Perry also took time to blast President Obama’s executive order on immigration. He says it will trigger a new flood of people illegally entering Texas from Mexico.
Nov 18th - 5:26 pm
In an 18-page ruling Tuesday, District Judge Bert Richardson refused to throw out two felony indictments against Gov. Rick Perry. The motion involved in Tuesday’s ruling dealt with a technicality over whether or not special prosecutor Michael McCrum was properly sworn in. Another argument in this particular motion was that some paperwork was not properly filed.
Perry was indicted in August. He’s accused of threatening, then carrying out, a veto of funding for public corruption prosecutors after DA Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat leading the unit, wouldn’t resign following her DWI conviction.
The governor’s defense team has also questioned the case’s constitutionality. Judge Richardson, a Republican, has not yet ruled on those motions.
Nov 18th - 3:43 pm
Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have signed an agreement to extend the border surge through the end of August 2015.
Perry and other state officials said in a statement Tuesday that the’ll now await the approval of the Legislative Budget Board, which meets next month.
If members give the $86 million plan the go ahead, the move allows enhanced patrols by the Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard and other personnel to continue their response to a surge in immigrants entering illegally into the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley.
Officials want to divert nearly $48 million in general revenue bonds and other monies to help cover the cost.
“Texas has proven beyond any doubt that this border can be secured, even if the federal government refuses to take the steps necessary to do so as required by the Constitution,” Perry said in a press release. “This agreement will ensure the hardworking men and women from DPS, the Texas National Guard and Texas Parks and Wildlife, who have been working with local and federal partners, have the resources they need to maintain a robust law enforcement presence along the border until the Legislature can act.”
According to the Governor’s Office, funds for DPS would include the addition of new shallow-water boats and other technological capabilities, “which would be used to extend tactical capabilities as well as the surge footprint beyond the Rio Grande Valley Sector.”
Sep 29th - 12:46 pm
Sen. Wendy Davis is calling for an independent investigation into Attorney General Greg Abbott’s role in the Texas Enterprise Fund. The call comes on the heels of a scathing audit that revealed more more than $170 million was awarded to businesses that never submitted an application.
The Davis campaign is accusing Abbott of using his office to cover up the transition of the funds by hiding documents and denying open records requests that would have proven Abbott knew the applications never existed.
“Greg Abbott has been Attorney General throughout the entire existence of the Enterprise Fund, and he was responsible for acting as its watchdog, monitoring its accounts and recovering misspent money,” Davis said. “For that entire time, Mr. Abbott did not recover one dime of taxpayer dollars for the Enterprise Fund.”
Davis is also demanding that Abbott return the $1.4 million in campaign contributions he received from grant recipients.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Attorney General’s office maintains Abbott was following state law because releasing confidential applications could put companies at a competitive disadvantage.
Sep 24th - 6:07 pm
Special Prosecutor Michael McCrum filed a motion in Travis County Court Wednesday, arguing Gov. Rick Perry should be required to attend pretrial hearings.
The motion is in response to a request from Perry’s legal team that the governor be permitted to skip any hearing where evidence isn’t presented, beginning with a hearing scheduled for October 13. Perry’s lawyers assert Perry has “long standing plans” to be in Europe on that date. They further argue that it is common practice for the court to waive a defendant’s presence at all non-evidentiary pretrial hearings.
McCrum’s motion disputes that assertion, arguing that there are plenty of legitimate reasons the defendant would need to be present. “The defendant improperly suggests that there is a presumption that important issues will not be addressed,” the brief says. “The absence of an evidentiary hearing does not necessarily indicate that important substantive issues could arise at any court setting.”
McCrum also argued Perry should be denied special treatment. “Mr. Perry should not be treated any differently than any other citizen of the State of Texas who is charged with committing felony crimes and who is obligated to be at all court settings,” the brief says. “From carpenters to lawyers to judges accused of anything from tickets to federal felonies, all are expected to appear in court.”
McCrum did offer to reschedule the October 13 pretrial hearing for a date when the governor will be in town.
Perry is charged with two felonies stemming from a 2013 veto. A grand jury found that Perry abused his power when he threatened to cut funding to the Travis County Public Integrity Unit. Perry justified the threat — and the veto — saying the public lost confidence in DA Rosemary Lehmberg’s ability to lead the unit, following her drunk driving conviction.
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.