Vol 32, Issue 30 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

*Texas Weekly is going on vacation for the summer. We will not publish on the following two Fridays but we will return Aug. 21. Thanks for reading!*

A state appeals court threw out one of two counts in the indictment against former Gov. Rick Perry. It threw out the count alleging that Perry coerced a public servant when he threatened to veto state funding for a unit of the Travis County district attorney's office. But the court left intact the indictment's other count, which accuses Perry of abusing his power.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn said on the Senate floor Sunday that his colleague and fellow Texan, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, “is mistaken” in saying Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a “flat-out lie” over legislative strategy. Cruz’s statement last week got him a scolding from Cornyn and other GOP leaders in the Sunday session.

The General Land Office’s contracting procedures are riddled with “significant weaknesses” that threaten the agency’s ability to ensure it is wisely spending its dollars, State Auditor John Keel said in a report made public Tuesday. The GLO agreed with the auditor’s many recommended fixes and said it was already making changes. But former Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who led the agency for 12 years, jabbed his successor, fellow Republican George P. Bush, for failing to push back against the audit’s findings.

In a Wednesday speech, Perry launched an offensive against banks that are too big to fail and tied the 2008 financial crisis to Hillary Clinton. Warning that the "next crash is on the horizon," Perry positioned himself as the only candidate with the economic record to to reverse an era of Wall Street run amok, enabled by complicit politicians.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton confirmed on Wednesday that a video filmed in Texas, which his office obtained as part of its investigation into Planned Parenthood practices, is “consistent” with other undercover videos released by an anti-abortion group. Paxton spoke at a Senate committee hearing on Planned Parenthood fetal tissue donations.

A House committee Thursday heard from state and county officials on trooper training and jail standards following the death of Sandra Bland. Also this week, Waller County officials released Bland’s booking video to dispel rumors that they covered up the real circumstances of Bland’s death, and the prosecutor said he appointed an outside group of lawyers to review the evidence in the case to ensure that Waller County remains "an open book."

Texas’ Republican leaders and environmentalists both claimed victory Tuesday following an appeals court ruling that requires the federal government to ease limits on certain emissions for Texas and a dozen other states. Texas was among 13 states, joined by industry and labor groups, that sued over the so-called Cross-State Air Pollution Rule in 2011, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s framework and complaining states weren't given enough time to comply.

Uber added Austin to a small list of cities in which it will add wheelchair-accessible vehicles to its transportation offerings. The Austin ordinance that allowed companies like Uber and Lyft to legally co-exist with traditional cab companies also required the vehicle-for-hire companies to make it easier for users to request a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. Similar programs are already in place in New York, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia and Portland, according to company officials.

Disclosure: The Texas General Land Office has been a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. Uber Technologies and Lyft are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Steve Gilman of Houston, Beckie Stockstill Cobb of Deer Park and Yusuf Farran of El Paso have been named by Gov. Greg Abbott to the Credit Union Commission for terms set to expire on Feb. 1, 2021.

Ruth Ruggero Hughs of Austin was named by Abbott to the Texas Workforce Commission for a term set to expire on Feb. 1, 2021. A lawyer in private practice, she is also the owner of a film production company. She was previously the director of defense litigation in the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Abbott has made five appointments to the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Stroke. Kyle Sheets was appointed for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2017, while Sherron Meeks, Shilpa Shamapant and Marcie Gonzalez Wilson were appointed for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021. Melbert “Bob” Hillert, Jr. was reappointed for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2021.

T. Dan Friedkin of Houston was named chairman of the Parks and Wildlife Commission for a term to expire at the pleasure of the governor. He is CEO of Gulf States Toyota, which operates dealerships in five states, and a holding company, Friedkin Companies Inc., which invests primarily in the automotive industry.

Jay Steven Herrington of Palestine was named by Abbott to the Upper Neches River Municipal Water Authority Board of Directors for a term set to expire on Feb. 1, 2021.

Jeff Judson, a former president of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, announced Friday he is launching a challenge to unseat House Speaker Joe Straus. In addition to his time at TPPF, Judson worked in President George H. W. Bush's administration and on Capitol Hill for the late Sen. John Tower as well as Reps. Tom Loeffler and Tom DeLay. Straus represents House District 121 in Bexar County.

Former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is backing businessman Bill King in his bid for Houston mayor, King’s campaign announced Wednesday. Dewhurst and his wife, Tricia, joined a handful of area conservative leaders in a letter sent to Houston residents encouraging them to get involved in King’s campaign.

State Rep. Stuart Spitzer, R-Kaufman, announced Wednesday that he'll seek re-election to represent House District 4. Spitzer is in his first term representing the district, which takes in Kaufman County and most of Henderson County.

Ted Cruz's presidential campaign announced Tuesday that it has hired two field directors in Iowa and South Carolina. In Iowa, the campaign brought on board Jake Dagel, who most recently worked for the Iowa branch of Turning Point USA, which organizes young conservatives. In the Palmetto State, the campaign tapped Steven Wright, a former volunteer for Mark Sanford's congressional bid.

Beth Cubriel is stepping down as the executive director of the Republican Party of Texas, she announced Monday. In an email to the State Republican Executive Committee, Cubriel said she was leaving the party to work for a law firm in Austin. She began working for the party as its organizational director in February 2011 and became executive director in June 2012. Her last day is Sept. 8.

Ken Cearley, stewardship manager for the Texas Agricultural Land Trust, received the prestigious Sam Beasom Conservation Leader Award from the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA). He was honored in a ceremony earlier this month in San Antonio.

Disclosure: The Texas Public Policy Foundation and the Texas Wildlife Association are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.