Gov. Rick Perry

Judge rules against one Perry defense motion

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.

 

‘Big 3′ extend border surge

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.”

 

Davis Demands Investigation into Abbott’s Role in the Texas Enterprise Fund

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.

Special Prosecutor Argues Gov. Perry Should Be Denied Special Treatment

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.

Perry Vows to Fight Indictment in Fiery Press Conference

Governor Rick Perry is calling the two-count indictment against him a “farce” and vowing to fight it through every legal avenue available.

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.”

Governor Indicted on Two Counts

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:

Perry Indictment

Capital Tonight: Dual Decisions Bring Health Care Law Back into Question

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.

CONGRESSIONAL RESPONSE

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.

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

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.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Dewhurst Explains Details of National Guard Deployment

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.

IMMIGRATION ANSWERS

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.

ON THE AGENDA

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.

Democrats, Business Leaders Respond to National Guard Deployment to Border

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.