Craddick Elected Railroad Commission Chair

The Texas Railroad Commission unanimously elected Christi Craddick as chairwoman, Tuesday. Craddick was elected to the three member commission in 2012. She will replace Barry Smitherman, who will be leaving the commission following an unsuccessful run for Attorney General.

In recent months, Craddick has been working closely with Red State Women, which is PAC aimed at engaging female voters in Texas. Executive Director Cari Christman released this statement:

“Texas will be well served with Christi Craddick at the helm of the Texas Railroad Commission. As Commissioner, Christi has been an unrelenting crusader for Texans, protecting jobs from the ever-encroaching EPA and looking for ways to improve and innovate our oil and gas industry. A strong Republican female, Christi continues to be a trailblazer and a role model for the women of our great state.”

Capital Tonight: Rep. Martinez Fischer Explains Committee’s Censure of UT Regent

A House panel has voted to give a University of Texas System regent a public reprimand and a warning. The House transparency committee that has been investigating UT Regent Wallace Hall for more than a year says the move sends a strong statement that his behavior crossed a line, but committee members say they’re choosing not to pursue an impeachment process at this time.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how Regent Wallace Hall himself is responding. Plus, committee member Trey Martinez Fischer explained what the decision means for the UT System as a whole.

BATTLE OVER MAPS

While the political cost of the state’s redistricting court case won’t be known for some time, we now have a clearer picture of the monetary cost. Following a Public Information Act request by the San Antonio Express-News, we now know that it’s cost Texas $3.9 million thus far to defend redistricting maps. And that figure will only go higher as the second phase of the case begins in a federal courtroom in San Antonio.

We spoke to redistricting expert Michael Li about the newest court battle, and why it involves a set of older maps.

PISTOLS AND PILSNER

The public is weighing in on a controversial proposal to allow alcohol sales at gun shows.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is considering a change in its rules after a gun club in the Dallas area reached out to the agency asking for permission to serve alcohol at its events. We checked in with TABC officials to find out where the proposal stands.

House Panel Votes to Censure UT Regent

The committee investigating UT Regent Wallace Hall handed down a reprimand Monday that falls short of calling for impeachment. The Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has been investigating Hall for what some lawmakers have called a “witch hunt” against UT Austin President Bill Powers. Hall is also accused of abusing his position and violating student privacy rights through public information requests.

The panel voted in May that grounds for Hall’s impeachment existed but they declined to draw up formal charges and send them to the full House. Instead, Monday, the committee voted 6-to-1 to censure Hall. However, members say the impeachment option is still on the table. Republican Rep. Charles Perry was the only ‘no’ vote.

Democratic State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer serves on the House Transparency Committee and helped draft the 26-page censure document. Martinez Fischer said while there aren’t articles of impeachment, the censure is serious.

“It’s important for us to take measured steps, but to set the tone,” he said. “And this censure document really does that. It’s not a slap on the wrist. It’s an embarrassing document.  If I was Regent Hall, I would be embarrassed to know that this is going to be a part of the public record.”

The Travis County Public Integrity Unit is also investigating Hall’s actions, and he could still face criminal charges.

Hall released a statement following the committee vote. He said, in part:

“The committee’s findings are based on distortions, untruths, and intentional misrepresentations. Speaker Straus and his committee have abused the public’s trust and money to cover up their improper interference in System operations, including to defend a university president who was repeatedly asked to leave.”

Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed Hall, released a statement of support. He said:

“Regent Hall has acted how I expect all appointees to act – in the best interest of Texas. He has rightly asked tough questions and held people accountable for their actions, even in the face of withering personal attacks. I hope today closes this ugly chapter and Regent Hall’s critics can stop wasting time and start focusing on what’s important, ensuring higher education is affordable, accessible and accountable to all Texans.”

 

Capital Tonight: Is Going Negative a Good Strategy for Davis?

The Wendy Davis campaign has come out swinging with its first statewide TV ad, attacking Greg Abbott for his decision in a 1998 case during his time as a Texas Supreme Court Justice. Meanwhile, the Abbott team is taking a friendlier approach, focusing on the candidate’s family and history instead.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at both strategies to see why going negative might work.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The Texas delegation in Congress is back in-district and defending their response to the border situation. We heard from House members on both sides of the aisle. Plus, Bob Garrett of The Dallas Morning News, Mike Ward of the Houston Chronicle and Texas Monthly’s Erica Grieder joined us to weigh in on that story and more. 

 

CHECKING THE FACTS

Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to break down two claims, including one from Gov. Perry on border-crossings and the threat of terrorism. 

Davis Team’s First Statewide Ad Attacks Abbott over 1998 Decision

The Wendy Davis team has revealed its first statewide TV ad, an attack on Gregg Abbott over his ruling in a 1998 case involving a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman and the accusation of rape.

Entitled “A Texas Story,” the 60-second ad refers to a 1993 case in which a woman accused a door-to-door Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman of raping her in her own home. The salesman was not prosecuted for the crime, but the case went before the Texas Supreme Court after the woman sued the Kirby company for punitive damages, claiming that a simple background check would have shown the man’s criminal history and prevented the sexual assault.

The court ruled in 6-3 favor of the woman, with then-Justice Abbott joining in the dissenting side. In their dissenting opinion, Abbott and Justice Priscilla Owen said Kirby “owed no duty” to the victim under the circumstances of the case.

You can watch the full ad below.

Abbott Campaign Launches ‘Major’ Statewide Ad

The Greg Abbott campaign announced Thursday it is launching a “major statewide television ad buy.”

The ad features Attorney General Abbott’s mother-in-law discussing his values. The 30-second spot is in Spanish.

The Republican nominee for governor has often reminded voters that if he wins, his wife Cecilia would become the state’s first Latina First Lady.

This is not the first Spanish-language ad the Abbott campaign has released during the general election season. Back in June, another one aired during the World Cup on Spanish-language stations. Abbott faces the Democratic nominee, State Sen. Wendy Davis, in November.

Battleground Texas Releases First Campaign Video

The first skirmish in the fight to turn Texas blue will take place in Irving, Texas.

That’s the home of House District 105, and it’s where Battleground Texas has chosen to invest in its first campaign video since forming in 2013. The ad features Democratic candidate Susan Motley, a lawyer and mother of four with no previous political experience. The Battleground Texas team is describing the two-and-a-half-minute web ad as just the first in a series of “Blue Star campaigns,” meant to “harness grassroots energy and campaign infrastructure to help make races down the ballot more competitive.”

The seat Motley is running for was previously held by Republican Rep. Linda Harper Brown, who lost her party’s primary to former state representative Rodney Anderson. In the last reporting period, Motley out-raised Anderson by roughly $1,600, although a tough primary race left Motley with just $29,000 in the bank compared to Anderson’s $53,000. The district, which encompasses Irving and Grand Prairie, has been historically Republican, although a Democrat held the seat as recently as 2000.

You can watch the full web ad below.

Capital Tonight: Congressman Doggett Reacts to Border Situation

The state of Texas is making its legal case in defense of new requirements for abortion facilities set to be implemented next month.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on day three of the newest fight over a controversial law that could see all but seven of the state’s abortion clinics close.

IN-DISTRICT INTERVIEW

Congressman Lloyd Doggett isn’t holding back his opinion when it comes to the governor’s decision to send troops to the border, calling it “Operation Iowa Caucuses.” He joined us for a one-on-one interview on that topic and more.

SENATE SEAT WIN

Sen. Tommy Williams’ Senate seat now has a new occupant, which means an influential political group takes a loss. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to explain why.

Capital Tonight: One-on-One with Sen. Dan Patrick

The state’s abortion law was back in court Monday, along with much of the controversy that surrounded its passage.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on day one of a new legal battle over a part of the law that’s taking effect soon.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

From abortion law to border issues, Sen. Dan Patrick has been a key figure in many of the latest political debates. He joined us for a one-on-one interview for the first time since his primary win for lieutenant governor.

ON THE AGENDA

Gov. Rick Perry is lending his name to a new political action committee, adding more fuel to speculation about his 2016 plans. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to discuss that and more.

Capital Tonight: Legal Stances Set in Second Battle Over Abortion Law

Another part of the state’s abortion law will soon be on trial, nearly a month before it’s set to go into effect. On Monday, opponents of House Bill 2 will be back in court, challenging the state’s requirement that abortion facilities meet the standards of ambulatory surgical centers.

In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the case they’re planning to make, just days after a clinic in Austin shuts its doors.

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

From the border issue to the state’s same-sex marriage ban, Texas politics have generated plenty of headlines this week. We sat down with Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune and KUT’s Veronica Zaragovia to delve deeper into those stories and more.

CAMPAIGN FACTS
Plus, Gardner Selby joined us to put two claims to the PolitiFact truth-test — both involving statewide candidates.