Wendy Davis

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.

Wendy Davis weighs in on Van de Putte’s plans

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Sen. Wendy Davis is voicing support for fellow Sen. Letica Van de Putte. She released this statement following official word that Van de Putte will make an announcement about her future, next week.

“We’ve already seen the level of excitement that Sen. Van De Putte generates. Sen. Van de Putte has a strong record of putting Texans first. She has delivered for veterans, small businesses, and working families and will make a powerful candidate – should she choose to run.” 

It is expected that Van de Putte will join the race for lieutenant governor. Should she run and win the democratic primary, she will face one of four Republican candidates. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Sen. Dan Patrick, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and Agriculture commissioner Todd Staples are in a four way race for the GOP nomination.

New poll shows Abbott with 15-point lead over Davis

A potential matchup in the race for governor is looking less favorable for Sen. Wendy Davis this week.

New numbers from Public Policy Polling show Davis trailing Republican frontrunner Greg Abbott by 15 points, with 15 percent undecided. The poll assumes Abbott wins his party’s nomination for governor and that no one runs as an independent.

The PPP poll also posited a hypothetical three-candidate matchup, assuming that Debra Media dropped her bid for comptroller and ran for governor as an Independent instead. In that scenario, Abbott still commanded a 10-point lead, with Davis holding onto 37 percent and Medina grabbing 9 percent.

The PPP poll surveyed 500 voters by an automated phone interview and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Monday, a University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll showed Davis trailing by only six percent against Abbott in a head-to-head matchup, with that gap shrinking to five percentage points with Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass included in the race.

New UT/TT poll shows close governor’s race

A new University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll shows the governor’s race within single digits. The poll released Monday puts Attorney General Greg Abbott ahead of Wendy Davis, 40 percent to 34 percent. About a quarter of those polled still say they have not decided who to vote for.

Poll director Daron Shaw told the Texas Tribune, “What you’ve got is a race in which, for the first time in a long time, the Democrat is as well-known as the Republican at the outset of the race.”

James Henson from the Texas Politics Project will join us this evening to talk more about what the poll means for the 2014 election.

Glass makes another bid for governor

The day before Democratic State Sen. Wendy Davis’ announcement about a possible run for governor, someone else jumped into the race.

Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass announced she’s running in 2014 during an Austin news conference Wednesday morning at the Driskill Hotel.

Glass ran for governor in 2010, receiving a little more than 2 percent of the vote, to Governor Rick Perry’s 55 percent. Democrat Bill White pulled in 42 percent in that race.

She used the current federal government shutdown as an example of why she’s running again.

“This shutdown is just a glimpse of what might happen when there is a total collapse from Washington, because we know — the voters of Texas know — that Washington is broken,” Glass said. “The two-party system is corrupt and broken. They’ll never fix themselves and they can’t be reformed from within.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott and former Texas Worforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken are among the Republican candidates who have already annouced a run for governor.

As was the case in 2010, Glass is campaigning on a platform of limited government.

She said to expect a lot of active, serious Libertarian campaigns for a variety of offices this election cycle.


Poll: Voters largely undecided in 2014 gubernatorial election

A new Texas Lyceum poll released Wednesday shows Attorney General Greg Abbott ahead of Sen. Wendy Davis in the governor’s race. Abbott is polling at 29 percent, compared to Davis who has 21 percent. Despite Abbott’s early lead, however, most Texans still have not made up their minds. About 50 percent of those polled said they do not know who they would vote for if the election was held today.

The poll shows the two candidates in a statistical tie among registered women voters, with 51 percent of females still classifying themselves as ‘undecided’. Davis, who is expected to formally announce her candidacy tomorrow, enjoys a lead with minority groups.

“Once again, the Republicans continue to dominate the ballot for governor and all legislative offices. Moreover, GOP candidates essentially split the female vote and win males by close to 20 points,” said University of Texas Professor Daron Shaw. “On the other side of the ledger, those Democrats hoping to turn the state blue in the short term might also take solace in the fact that more than half of the electorate isn’t yet engaged with the 2014 elections.”


Abbott tweet draws criticism

Attorney General and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is drawing criticism over a Twitter exchange he was involved in this weekend.

On Sunday, Abbott responded to a tweet from @jefflegal. As you can see in the image, he tweeted “@GregAbbottTX would absolutely demolish idiot @WendyDavis in Gov race – run Wendy run! Retard Barbie to learn life lesson. #TGDN @tcot.” In a tweet that has since been deleted, Abbott responded, thanking him for his support.

The Texas Democratic party was quick to respond. Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa released a statement, saying:

“That Greg Abbott would thank a supporter for calling Senator Wendy Davis a ‘Retard Barbie’ is absolutely disgusting and disturbing.”

Abbott later tweeted back saying, “FYI: I thank supporters on Twitter, but I don’t endorse anyone’s offensive language. Stay positive.”

Sen. Davis is considering a run for Governor. She expected to make an official announcement around Labor Day.


Capital Tonight: Lawmakers hit the road after passing transportation funding

The final piece of a plan to increase funding for the state’s roads and bridges passed shortly after 9:30 Monday night, by a vote of 124-2. Minutes later, House lawmakers adjourned Sine Die, pending administrative duties.

The complete package will divert half of the money earmarked for the state’s Rainy Day Fund toward the State Highway Fund instead. Estimated at nearly a billion dollars per year, the money would go toward construction and maintenance for non-tolled roads, and would fill almost a quarter of the $4 billion in funding Texas Department of Transportation officials say they need.

The two-part plan includes a funding mechanism, known as Senate Joint Resolution 1, which will go before voters as a ballot measure in 2014. The second part of the funding plan, known as House Bill 1, details the way lawmakers decide how much money gets left in the Rainy Day Fund. It also directs TxDOT to find cost-cutting measures without reducing funding for transportation projects.

Lawmakers failed to get a similar plan passed during the previous special session after falling short of the 100 votes needed.

In our special, 11 p.m. broadcast, we checked in with Rep. Joe Pickett shortly before the final vote, and talked to the Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg about the latest on funding for the Public Integrity Unit.


Questions about voting law in Texas aren’t going away anytime soon, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling and a vote on redistricting maps by Texas lawmakers. To find out where the issue is headed from here, we spoke to Michael Li of the Texas Redistricting & Election Law blog.


Plus, State Sen. Wendy Davis was back in Washington Monday, this time headlining a luncheon at the National Press Club. Speaking in front of journalists and Democratic supporters, the woman who made headlines with a nearly 11-hour filibuster didn’t shy away from her rising profile. Click the YNN logo below to see the full episode.

Davis campaign benefits from national attention

Sen. Wendy Davis’ high profile abortion filibuster is translating into campaign finance funds. Davis’ campaign announced Monday that the Democrat raised nearly $1 million in the last two weeks of June.

Most of that money came from individual contributions. The campaign says more than 15,000 different people donated to the Davis campaign and almost half money came from contributors outside the state.

Davis is contemplating a run for governor, but has not made any official announcement yet. The Dallas Democrat  would have to give up her Senate seat, should she decide to run for the state’s top office.

She would also face a formidable financial foe in Attorney Greg Abbott. Abbott, who announced his candidacy yesterday, has almost $23 million in his campaign war chest. Nearly $5 million of that was raised after the end of the June 17 fundraising moratorium.