Texas’ Senators Applaud Holder Resignation

Texas Republicans are applauding Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to step down.

Sen. John Cornyn has been calling for Holder’s resignation since the 2012 “Fast and Furious” scandal, which allowed guns into Mexico with the intention of tracking them to drug cartels. Cornyn took Holder to task for what he said was failing to appoint a special prosecutor, leaking confidential information and withholding documents from Congress.

In a statement, Cornyn said:

“Unfortunately the American people, myself included, lost confidence in the Attorney General’s ability to lead a long time ago because of his continued willingness to put politics before the law.”

Senator Ted Cruz shared similar sentiments. Cruz has accused Holder of covering up important information concerning the investigation into accusations the IRS unfairly targeted Tea Party groups.

In a statement, he said:

“It is good news that Eric Holder has announced his resignation. Sadly, he has proven to be the most partisan attorney general in our history, repeatedly defying and refusing to enforce the law.  It did not have to be this way, but Holder’s leadership has grievously undermined the Department of Justice’s long bipartisan tradition of independence and fidelity to law.

Holder had an opportunity to fairly investigate the IRS’s illegal targeting of citizen groups; rather than do so, he entrusted the investigation to a major Democratic donor, and brazenly refused to appoint a special prosecutor.  For two years now, the Department has obstructed justice and impeded any fair investigation of the IRS’s abuse of power; in response to Holder’s partisan dereliction of duty, I publicly called for his impeachment.”

 

Holder will remain in his position until a new attorney general is confirmed. Sen. Cruz is requesting that confirmation hearings for his replacement be delayed until a new Congress is in place in January.

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.

Abbott Releases First Attack Ad

Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is attacking Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis’ ethics in the Senate in a new television ad. The ad renews accusations from the Abbott campaign that Davis abused her position in the Senate to profit in the private sector. Abbott also alleges that Davis’ legal work is subject to an open investigation by the FBI.

The Davis campaign was quick to respond, calling the ad a ‘desperate attack.’ 

“It is the clearest sign yet that Greg Abbott’s lead is steadily eroding and that they are forced to distract from his unethical record, such as using his office to side against patients maimed and killed by a sadistic surgeon after accepting $250,000 from the hospital’s chairman,” said spokesman Zac Petkanas. That claim was the subject of Davis’ most recent TV ad.

The campaign also points to a PolitiFact Texas finding that rated Abbott’s claim that Davis is currently under investigation by the FBI ‘False.’

Staples Named TXOGA President

Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples is resigning his post to become president of the Texas Oil and Gas Association. He is expected to leave office sometime in the next two months.

Staples term was already set to expire in January. He didn’t seek reelection, deciding instead to run for lieutenant governor. He finished third in the four-way Republican primary.

Staples had previously served in the Texas House and Senate, before becoming agriculture commissioner. Republican Sid Miller and Democrat Jim Hogan are running to replace him in November.

New Abbott Ad Highlights Values, Davis Attacks Abbott Again

If this week is any indication, the airwaves will be flooded with ads for the governor’s race leading up to election day. Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott again released new TV ads, Wednesday.

Attorney General Greg Abbott’s new ad features actor Eduardo Verástegui, who touts Abbott’s faith and values. As with his previous TV spots, the ad makes no mention of Wendy Davis.

Davis’ latest spot, meanwhile, is another attack on Abbott’s actions as Attorney General. This time, she is criticizing Abbott for the role he played in a hospital lawsuit filed by victims of a Plano surgeon accused of operating under the influence of drugs. On Monday, Davis released a similar ad accusing Abbott of refusing to intervene in a sex abuse investigation in West Texas.

Abbott, Davis Release New TV Ads

Democrat Wendy Davis hit Republican Greg Abbott with another attack ad, Monday. This time, Davis is accusing Abbott of failing to investigate reports of sexual abuse at a state run school overseen by the Texas Youth Commission.

According to the ad, the Texas Rangers requested that the Attorney General’s office intervene in the investigation into reports that administrators at the school were sexually abusing young boys. The ad insinuates that Abbott refused to get involved because he was covering up for the TYC.

According to the Abbott campaign, the Attorney General’s office could not legally intervene in the case unless the local district attorney made the request, which did not happen until a year later. 

“Sen. Davis can distort the facts in her ads, but no amount of distortion can cover her despicable practice of repeatedly using public office to personally profit,” said Communications Director Matt Hirsh. “We now know that before she was lining her pockets at the taxpayers’ expense as a state senator, Sen. Davis was voting to steer millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to clients of her title company as a Fort Worth City Council member.” 

This is Davis’ second attack of this nature. Davis’ first TV ad attacked Abbott over his ruling in a 1998 case involving a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who raped a woman in her home.

Abbott, meanwhile, released his own TV ad, Monday. The straightforward, 30-second spot touts Texas’ economy and business-friendly environment.

Capital Tonight: Senate’s New Look to Come With New Political Challenges

Workers at the Capital are busy giving the Senate a new look, and with it comes a new crop of lawmakers and possibly a new way of doing business. In Friday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the changes being made to the chamber, just as Texans wait to see how the leadership will soon change over on that side of the pink dome. 

REPORTER ROUNDTABLE

The debate over debates has turned into a battle over a book tour. Reporters Jay Root of the Texas Tribune and Christy Hoppe of The Dallas Morning News weighed in on the latest back-and-forth between the Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis teams over whether Senator Davis’s book promotion is breaking election law. 

COMEDY AND THE CONSTITUTION

Could a proposed amendment really land Saturday Night Live leadership in jail? Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas took a closer look at Sen. Ted Cruz’s latest claim.

Capital Tonight: Political Leaders Evaluate ISIS Through Lens of 9/11 Attacks

Thirteen years ago, the United States suffered the worst attack ever on American soil. Now, on the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, the world is watching a potential new terror threat in Syria and Iraq.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at how American leadership is reflecting and considering what to do next.

GOV. RACE UPDATE

Here in Texas, a new poll done for the Wendy Davis campaign shows her trailing by single digits, even while the Greg Abbott team cries foul over her campaign ethics. Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to weigh in on the latest on the governor’s race.

USER AGREEMENT

By now, the use of social media by politicians is as common as campaign signs, but what about using it to make policy? We spoke with Glasshouse Policy co-founder Francisco Enriquez about why he believes a crowdsourced policy think tank can work.

Capital Tonight: Governor’s Race Gets More Personal

A new autobiography dives deeper than ever into Wendy Davis’s personal life, while her opponent Greg Abbott questions whether her promotion of it is breaking campaign finance laws.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we check in on the balance between personal and political in the governor’s race.

ON THE AGENDA

Gov. Rick Perry is talking economics in Asia, while his legal team takes another swing at trying to quash the felony counts against him. The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg joined us to weigh in on both stories.

‘RACE FOR THE FUTURE’

Hispanic voters are being courted more than ever by the Republican party. Can they reverse decades of Democratic support? Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation talked about his new book, “A Race for the Future: How Conservatives Can Break the Liberal Monopoly on Hispanic Americans.”

Perry Attorneys File Second Motion to Dismiss Charges

Governor Rick Perry’s attorneys are making a second attempt to get the indictment against him thrown out. They filed a First Motion to Quash and Dismiss in Travis County court, Monday. The 40-page brief makes many of the same claims as the previous Writ of Habeus Corpus, which they filed last month and has not yet been ruled on. Both briefs argue that the charges Perry faces are unconstitutional.

This latest motion differs from the Writ of Habeus Corpus, which challenges the authority of the court to hear the case. A judge could deny that motion but still rule in Perry’s favor on the motion to dismiss. If the judge refuses to dismiss the case based on the new motion, however, Perry is not entitled to an appeal.

Governor Perry faces two felony counts that he abused the power of his office by coercing a public official and that he misused government property. The charges stem from the 2013 legislative session when Gov. Perry threatened to veto funding for the Public Integrity Unit if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down following a drunk driving conviction. He cut the nearly $7.5 million when she refused.