Wendy Davis

Abbott campaign distances itself from RPT equal pay remarks

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is responding to controversial comments regarding pay equality by a top Republican Party of Texas official.

On Monday’s Capital Tonight, Executive Director Beth Cubriel said equal pay laws were unnecessary and the solution for pay discrimination lies outside of legislation. ”Men are better negotiators and I would encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators.”

Those remarks drew a swift response from the Wendy Davis campaign and other Democratic groups, including the Lone Star Project, Battleground Texas and the Texas Democratic Party. They have been firing shots at Abbott over the issue since last week, when Abbott declined to say if he would have supported the Texas Equal Pay Act.

In a statement to Capital Tonight Tuesday afternoon, the Abbott campaign distanced itself from Cubriel’s remarks. Spokesman Matt Hirsch said: 

“Greg Abbott supports equal pay, and he supports Texas and federal law that provides legal avenues for victims of discrimination. The Texas Constitution and both state and federal law guarantee a woman’s right to equal pay in Texas. Equal pay is the law in Texas, and as Governor, Greg Abbott will continue to ensure it’s enforced.

Greg Abbott believes it’s inappropriate to ever blame the victim of discrimination, and he remains focused on ensuring greater prosperity and opportunity for all women and Texans. As a father of a teenage daughter and a husband to a former teacher, Greg Abbott will ensure that growing prosperity in Texas touches all families.”

Lawmakers passed a Texas version of the Lilly Ledbetter Act during the 2013 legislative session. The law allowed a discrimination suit to be filed when the wrong-doing is discovered. Under current law in Texas, there is a 180-day time frame to file such a lawsuit.

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the legislation, saying it was unnecessary since a federal version already exists. Supporters of the bill, however, say the law would have allowed women to sue in state court, rather than federal court, which is easier and cheaper.

 

 

Capital Tonight: Texans react to judge’s same-sex marriage ruling

Federal Judge Orlando Garcia deemed the Texas ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional Wednesday. Marriage equality advocates praised the decision, while opponents say Texans have already weighed in on the issue. The case will likely be appealed to a higher court.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard reaction from same-sex marriage advocates and state leaders, plus we looked at how the state could play a role in the next round of national conventions.

TEXAS WRITER’S TAKE

Freelance writer Robert Draper has been drawing the nation’s attention to Texas with in-depth profiles on Wendy Davis and the state’s Democratic party. We spoke one-on-one with Draper about his view of the efforts to turn Texas blue.

BATTLEGROUND BIRTHDAY

Harvey Kronberg discussed the constitutionality of the new same-sex ruling and the progress of Battleground Texas on its one-year anniversary.

Davis war chest dwarfed by Abbott’s despite $2.85M haul

In spite of a significant month of fundraising, Sen. Wendy Davis’s team still trails her likely opponent by more than $18 million in cash on hand.

The Davis campaign reports raising $2.85 million between Jan. 24 and Feb. 22, more than $1.2 million of which comes from a joint effort with Battleground Texas known as the Texas Victory Committee. Although the Davis campaign is spinning it as a win — Abbott’s campaign pulled in $2.45 million during the same period — the size of the two candidates’ war chests still shows a stark divide.

Abbott has announced he has $29.98 million in cash to spend on his bid for governor. Compare that to Davis’ total war chest of $11.3 million after expenditures.

Both campaigns are making sure to highlight the source of their money. Abbott’s team points out that 98 percent of the donations came from donors in Texas, while the Davis campaign points out that 85 percent of contributions were in amounts of $50 or less.

 

Capital Tonight: Texas could play key role in fight over same-sex marriage

Two same-sex couples pleaded their case today in San Antonio against the Texas constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between opposite-sex couples. The plaintiffs base their argument on equal opportunity rights provided in the U.S. Constitution.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the possible outcomes of the case and the likelihood it will be appealed to the Supreme Court.

BREAKING BANS

Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, detailed how a federal judge struck down Kentucky’s gay marriage ban and how new federal rules announced by Attorney General Eric Holder will affect the LGBT community.

GOVERNOR’S RACE SHAKE-UP

Harvey Kronberg examined how a comment by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and new support of medical marijuana from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis impact their electoral chances.

Capital Tonight: What’s next for UT system after Chancellor Cigarroa?

The University of Texas System will soon enter a new era. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa formally announced that he will be stepping down from his position to return to medicine.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard from lawmakers who believe the move was possibly related to an unsuccessful push to remove UT Austin President Bill Powers. Plus, we looked at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ claim that Attorney General Greg Abbott didn’t do enough to fix the inadequate education funding during the last legislative session.

HEMP AND THE ECONOMY

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kinky Friedman joined us to explain how he believes hemp can replace cotton and why marijuana should be legal in Texas.

TURNING TEXAS BLUE

Harvey Kronberg joined us to comment on the day’s political news, plus a quote from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who says Texas could change into a blue state unless the GOP evolves.

Capital Tonight: Campaign finance reports starting to trickle in

The fundraising numbers are starting to trickle in ahead of the Jan. 15 deadline to make campaign finance reports public. Those numbers will give voters a good idea of just how much support is behind their candidate, but they also influence how other candidates will wind up shaping their campaign strategies.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how fundraising totals will affect the governor’s race.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

It’s a crowded field for Republicans running for agriculture commissioner. Former state Rep. Tommy Merritt joined us to explain what separates him from the herd.

HEALTH CARE DISHARMONY

The Obama administration is touting new enrollment numbers as proof that the federal online exchange has moved beyond its rocky start. But what about those who still aren’t signing up? We spoke to one local musician who says the law doesn’t add up for him.

Wendy Davis proposal would guarantee teaching jobs

Sen. Wendy Davis is announcing a proposal that would guarantee teaching jobs to certain college graduates and expand the number of students who would be automatically admitted to state colleges.

The Democratic front-runner for governor unveiled the proposals in North Texas Thursday, as part of a larger education reform package. Davis said students ranking in the top 20 percent in their junior year would be guaranteed early acceptance to college. Those same students would also be guaranteed a job teaching in a public school after graduating and getting certified.

Davis also promised to increase teacher pay statewide and provide more funding for a loan assistance program currently in effect for qualified teachers.

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s campaign released a statement in response to the proposal.

“Sen. Wendy Davis’ proposals are more fuzzy math – a plan that will increase spending and impose more mandates on Texas universities without explaining how to pay for it. Greg Abbott believes in genuine local control of education: empowering parents, teachers, and principals to serve our students well.”

Abbott and Davis are both making education a central theme in their bid for the governorship. Abbott unveiled his own set of education proposals at a series of events in December. They include an increase in digital learning and more flexibility for teachers.

Davis formally requests finance chairman’s removal

Sen. Wendy Davis if formally asking that Finance Commission Chairman William White be removed from his post based on comments he made to the El Paso Times regarding payday loans. White, who is also vice president of Cash America, told the paper that payday loan customers, not the lenders, are responsible for over-borrowing loans they could not repay.

Davis has been calling for White’s resignation since last week. In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, she made a formal request Tuesday. “Speaking in his official capacity in a recent interview with the El Paso Times, Mr. White chose to prioritize his business interests with Cash America International over Texas consumers,” Davis said. “It is abundantly clear that not only is Mr. White faced with a conflict of interest, tasked to protect the very people his company exploits through predatory lending, but that he chooses to side with his employer, blatantly disregarding his appointed duties as chairman.”

Davis has used the payday loan controversy as the first major attack in the 2014 gubernatorial race. She accused Attorney General Greg Abbott of opening the door to payday loan abuses across the state and criticized him for accepting campaign contributions from such companies.

Abbott has stayed mostly quiet in the controversy. He issued a statement last week calling Davis a hypocrite for voting to confirm White to his position and failing to amend legislation that might have prevented White from serving on the commission.

You can read Davis’ full letter, below:

Wendy Davis Letter

Davis keeping payday lending issue front and center in governor’s race

Sen. Wendy Davis is intensifying criticisms against Attorney General Greg Abbott over what she calls his support for predatory lenders in Texas.

In the latest attack since the new year, The Lone Star Project issued a press release Monday, accusing Abbott’s office of issuing the “key document that has allowed payday lenders to operate outside of Texas usury laws and exploit Texans across our state.”

The Lone Star Project references a letter sent from the AG’s office to the Office of the Consumer Credit Commissioner in 2006. The letter was in response to requests that the attorney general investigate claims that payday lenders “violate state consumer lending laws.”

In response, Abbott’s office indicated that the lenders, acting as credit service organizations, were in fact, in compliance with state finance laws. The letter also stated that there is “no limit in the CSO statutes on the amount of fees that may be charged by a CSO.” The attorney general stopped short, however, of issuing a formal opinion.

This controversy began following comments Texas Finance Commission Chair William White made to the El Paso Times about payday loan customers. White also serves as vice president for Cash America International, a company with more than 900 stores providing cash advances and pawn loans. In a statement, Davis called his dual obligations a “blatant conflict of interest.”

“William White can’t protect Texas consumers while he represents a predatory lending company on the side,” Davis said. “Mr. White should resign from his post – and if he won’t, Governor Perry should remove him.”

Davis also pointed out that Abbott has accepted huge sums of money from payday lenders.

Attorney General Abbott’s campaign has not responded to these latest attacks. However last week, his office issued this statement dismissing Davis’ claims as “election-year hypocrisy.”

“Sen. Wendy Davis’ statement is blatant election-year hypocrisy. Perhaps unknown to Sen. Davis, state law mandates that industry executives serve on the Finance Commission, and Sen. Davis voted to confirm William White to his position. Sen. Davis also had two opportunities to amend bills pertaining to the requirements to serve on the Commission, and both times Sen. Davis chose not to do so. Before calling for the resignations of those she voted to confirm, Sen. Davis might take a hard look at a her own record.”

“Greg Abbott has been a determined advocate of transparency and ethics in government and has laid out substantial reforms to improve public confidence in state government. He’ll use the same guidelines when making appointments if elected Governor.” 

You can read the full letter, below.

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Davis praises Van de Putte’s work with veterans in statement of support

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte’s announcement made history in Texas, Saturday. For the first time two women will lead a major party’s ticket for the state’s top offices.

Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running for governor, issued a statement of support following Saturday’s announcement.

“Sen. Van de Putte’s dedication to representing the interests of all Texans makes her an outstanding choice for Lieutenant Governor. She has delivered for our veterans and small businesses, and like many Texans, I’m excited about her announcement.“ 

While the two are running separately, it is likely we will see them on the campaign trail together often, starting today. Davis and Van de Putte will appear together in Austin, this evening.