Vol 33, Issue 39 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The Texas Ethics Commission on Thursday voted to end a long-running investigation into Empower Texans, a politically active nonprofit and one of the state's most influential conservative groups.

Texas has a record-breaking 15 million people registered to vote ahead of the November election — over 777,000 more than were registered in time for the March primaries. The deadline to register to vote was Tuesday.

Attorney General Ken Paxton is wading into another fight over local control — this one about plastic bags at certain retailers. The Republican on Wednesday sued the city of Brownsville over its $1 per-transaction fee on plastic and other one-time use bags offered at grocery stores and certain other businesses, calling it an “illegal sales tax.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants state lawmakers to pay for rifle-resistant vests for almost 60,000 patrol officers. It's unclear where — or whether — they'll find the $20 million to do it.

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office and four other agencies were questioned Wednesday about granting departing employees “emergency leave” as a form of separation payment.

The governor's office has put the Department of Family and Protective Services on notice to come up with a plan to help foster children find home placements faster and seek out those facing abuse.

The highest criminal court in Texas said Wednesday it will not hear Ken Paxton's appeal of securities fraud charges, putting the attorney general on the path to a trial in the coming months.

Attorneys for the state trooper who arrested Sandra Bland will ask a judge to let a second grand jury reconsider the perjury charge he faces.

President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura Bush, have decided that they will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery. With that choice, Bush will become the first U.S. president to be buried at the cemetery in East Austin.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, speaking at a Tuesday fundraiser in San Antionio, continued to call out members of his own party for not being fully supportive of him, including U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, whom he accused of "total disloyalty to the party." Ryan on Monday said he'd focus on down-ballot races after a 2005 tape surfaced last week that caught Trump making lewd comments about women.

Political People and their Moves

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick appointed on Thursday Windi Grimes, an investment executive from Houston, and Bill Lavers, the executive director of the Development Corporation of Snyder, to the Economic Incentive Oversight Board, which oversees economic incentive programs run by the governor, comptroller, or the agriculture department.

U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Austin, was one of 11 new appointments made late last week to Donald Trump’s national security advisory council.

Outgoing state Rep. Jim Keffer and former Secretary of State Hope Andrade were both announced today as new members of the board of directors for the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Also receiving a seat on the board is Ken Janda, leader of Houston-based Community Health Choice Inc.

Bruce Zimmerman, who oversaw the University of Texas Investment Management Company, which has nearly $37 billion in assets, resigned.

Texas Parent PAC, which advocates for public education, announced Thursday that it has endorsed Democratic challenger Tomás Uresti in the HD-118 race in Bexar County. He is running to unseat John Lujan, a Republican who won a special election in January to succeed Democratic state Rep. Joe Farias.

Rancher Bob McCan has been added to the board of directors of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, according to a Thursday announcement from the group. McCan manages the McFaddin Ranch near Victoria and is past president of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

We wrote last week about Myra Crownover’s chief of staff, Miranda Goodsheller, moving to the Texas Association of Business. The trade organization said Wednesday that she will represent it on education and transportation issues. Crownover is retiring from the Legislature after announcing last year that she wasn’t running for re-election.

Emmis Communications announced Thursday that it is selling Texas Monthly after 18 years of ownership to Genesis Park, a Houston-based private equity firm co-founded by Paul Hobby, son of former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby. Public Strategies founder Jack Martin will also be affiliated with Texas Monthly under the new ownership.

Deaths: Choco Gonzalez Meza, 64, a longtime Democratic activist in Bexar County, died Sunday. She had a long history in Texas politics, most recently working as a top organizer in San Antonio for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. She had previously served as chairwoman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, was a member of the Democratic National Committee and was an aide to former U.S. Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros.

Disclosure: Texas Monthly, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, the Texas Association of Business, Public Strategies Inc., Windi Grimes, Ken & Tracy Janda, Nancy and Bruce Zimmerman, and the Hobby Family Foundation have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.