Trump Taps Six Texans to Help With Hispanic Outreach

Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump enters a rally in Austin, Texas on August 23, 2016
Republican Presidential nominee, Donald Trump enters a rally in Austin, Texas on August 23, 2016

Texas is the most represented state on the 23-member National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump, which met for the first time Saturday in New York. Some reports out of the meeting indicated that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump had expressed an openness to softening his hardline immigration views, which the campaign denied.

The six Latino leaders from Texas advising Trump are Eddie Aldrete, senior vice president of IBC Bank; Henry Bonilla, a former congressman from San Antonio; Rick Figueroa, a former candidate for Republican National Committeeman, Jacob Monty, an immigration lawyer; Ramirez Pena, a pastor; and Massey Villarreal, CEO and president of Precision Task Group.

"The RNC joins the Trump campaign in recognizing the diverse group of Hispanic leaders who are generously giving of their time and talent to be a part of the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump,” Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in a statement Saturday. "Their participation is just one component of our expansive effort to engage the Hispanic community, and their contributions will help us compete for every vote in every community all the way through Election Day."


Trump raised at least $2 million in his swing through Texas on Tuesday, two sources close to the campaign tell the Texas Tribune. 

With that sum, Texas lived up to its traditional role in general election campaigns — as one of the top money raising states in GOP politics. His Texas travels — which included an Austin rally — raised many eyebrows given that Texas is a reliably conservative state. 

But it was worth his effort, by all appearances. The trip included a Fort Worth lunch fundraiser and a dinnertime money-raising event in Austin.


Former President Bill Clinton was in Texas on Thursday to raise money for his wife's presidential campaign. He was scheduled to attend a fundraiser in the morning in Houston, one in the afternoon in Dallas and another in the evening in San Antonio.

Those attending the Houston event were being asked to give or raise $20,000 per person or $33,400 per couple. The range was $1,000 to $33,400 for the Dallas fundraiser and $2,700 to $33,400 for the San Antonio event.

According to invitations, hosts of the fundraisers include Bill White in Houston, Carrin Patman and Sima Ladjevardian in Houston; Sharon and Kneeland Youngblood as well as Norrene and Eugene Duffy in Dallas; and Kyle Ferari, Henry Muñoz, and Maria and Jose Villarreal in San Antonio.


The top super PAC allied with House Republican leadership is coming to the defense of U.S. Rep. Will Hurd — to the tune of $800,000.

That's how much the Congressional Leadership Fund says it will initially spend on Hurd's rematch with Democrat Pete Gallego in Texas' 23rd congressional district. The super PAC announced the six-figure investment Monday as part of its $10 million first wave of spending on House races this fall.

The $800,000 effort in CD-23 includes TV advertising and begins Oct. 25 in the San Antonio area, the super PAC said.

"We’re proud to support Republicans like Will Hurd, who is running on providing conservative, solutions-based leadership in the House. From the airwaves to the ground game, Democrats will have no place to hide from their support of the failed Obama-Clinton agenda," CLF spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. "Voters need to look no further than the Iran deal ransom and Hillary’s email scandal to know they don’t want more dishonest Democrats in Congress."

The Hurd-Gallego contest has already drawn millions of dollars in investment from the campaign arms of House Democrats and Republicans. It is the only competitive race on the ballot this fall in November, and Democrats view it as one of their surest pickup opportunities across the country.

Oral Arguments in Voter ID Case are set for January

Did Texas lawmakers intentionally discriminate against minority voters when they passed their voter ID law?

A federal judge on Thursday set oral arguments on that question: Jan. 24, 2017.

Though the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled the strict ID requirements did discriminate, it kicked the question of intentionality back to a lower court.

In setting the date, U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos rejected the state’s efforts to delay the proceedings until July 2017 or later, along with its call to delay the proceedings until after its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court — an action it plans to take but has not yet.

“Until Defendants take their appeal and until this Court is divested of jurisdiction to proceed, the Court has a duty to the parties to proceed with the adjudication of this case without unnecessary delay,” Ramos wrote. "Defendants have adequate time to initiate their appeal and obtain a stay of this Court’s proceeding.”

A ruling that Texas intentionally discriminated against voters could land Texas back on the list of states needing federal approval before changing election laws. (A 2013 Supreme Court ruling sprung Texas and other states with a history of discrimination from that list.)


U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Heath, is helping echo Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's call for a special prosecutor to investigate Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Ratcliffe, a former U.S. attorney, was among the GOP officials who issued statements Thursday through the Trump campaign backing up the nominee, who wants an independent probe of Clinton's ties to her family foundation while serving as secretary of state. Ratcliffe called a special prosecutor "absolutely necessary when the Obama administration has proven itself wholly unwilling to prosecute one of its own."

"As a former U.S. Attorney, I join the American people in saying enough is enough," Ratcliffe said. "At this point, a special counsel is most definitely needed to ensure a truly fair and impartial investigation."

In the past week, the foundation has been at the center of a number of reports raising questions about how close Clinton was to it while she was the United States' top diplomat. Trump brought up those stories while campaigning Tuesday in Austin, saying it has become "impossible to figure out where the Clinton Foundation ends and the State Department begins."


The Senate Higher Education Committee on Tuesday returned its focus to the issue of college affordability. During a nearly three-hour meeting, many senators highlighted two programs aimed at making college more affordable for certain groups as reasons that statewide tuition bills are growing.

First, a group of conservative lawmakers decried tuition set-asides, which is tuition revenue that universities are required to devote to scholarships for needy students. Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, called the practice a "hidden tax" that raises the tuition bills for everyone else.

Meanwhile, several Republican senators also renewed their push to reform the Hazlewood program, which promises free tuition to veterans and, in some cases, their children. That program has cost universities millions of dollars in missed tuition revenue.

Changing either program will be a tall task in the upcoming session. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has unsuccessfully pushed to end set-asides for years. And a bill to reform Hazlewood died in 2015 due to resistance by Democrats and veterans advocates.

Inside Intelligence: About Those Trump Course Corrections...

For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about Donald Trump's recent course corrections.

With the first question, we asked which of the Trump campaign's new tactics stand to benefit the GOP presidential nominee the most. By far, the most popular new approach was ditching his off the cuff speaking style in favor of greater use of the teleprompter. That was named by 43 percent of the insiders.

Next on the list was the modification of certain core positions, such as on immigration, listed by 12 percent. Following closely behind was his admission that he's said the wrong things at times (9 percent) and replacing key staff with more conservative voices (7 percent).

A hefty 30 percent, though, didn't think any of these new tactics would benefit Trump much.

We then asked if a reboot would indeed benefit Trump. On this, 55 percent said that he would benefit while 37 percent said no.

Trump also made headlines this week for holding campaign events in Texas and Mississippi, where he is virtually certain to win, in lieu of travels to battleground states. We asked the insiders to evaluate the campaign strategy.

Fully 44 percent said they agreed with Trump's decision for both fundraising and for attracting headlines. Another 26 percent thought the travel was a good idea but for fundraising purposes alone. Just 5 percent thought Trump's choice of travel destinations was good just for the publicity.

Another 22 percent didn't think the Trump campaign made the right decision in focusing their attentions on red states this week.

A new opinion poll out last week got attention for its finding that Trump was leading Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by just 6 points. We closed the survey by asking the insiders to evaluate the relative accuracy of the results.

More than half, or 53 percent, thought Trump is leading by 6 to 9 points with another 20 percent pegging Trump's advantage at 10 to 12 points. Sixteen percent thought Trump's lead is less than 6 points with just 3 percent saying Trump leads by more than 12 points. 

We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached.


Which of these tactics gives Donald Trump the best chance to regain momentum?

• "Needs to keep focus on HRC email and Foundation scandals. Outreach to disaffected GOP would only be modestly successful at this late point."

• "Trump can't regain the momentum. I don't even think he wants it. He wants to go down as a colorful martyr. The Presidency is a bitch of a job. It's way less fun than game shows."

• "It's too late and the only momentum he would regain is with white, over 50 men. There aren't enough of them to get him elected."

• "Time has run out for Trump. What got him the nomination will not win the election. If he becomes more presidential now, he could disappoint his base — the very people that got us into this mess and are responsible for the election of Hillary Clinton."

• "If he modifies positions, then he'll likely lose confidence of early supporters and still won't gain new support. He's worthless when scripted. Staff ain't the problem — the candidate's the problem. Tall Tale Trump probably regrets nothing he's said — ever."


Does Trump benefit from a reboot?

• "He will benefit from limiting his daily rants to maybe two per week. Doing so, will leave the media with no choice than to cover the Clinton scandals."

• "He might as well go down swinging. Changing now wouldn't gain new support, just lose his current enthusiasts."

• "Trump needs the support of true conservatives. He's never been one, so he must reach out to us, starting with the Cruz family."

• "You only get one chance to reset. If he tries to reset now, it will be the second or third? It's hard to keep up with them."

• "Reality is he can keep saying what he wants and win. The little people are pissed and there are more of them than the elites. Let's start with a key political indicator, Brexit..."


Was the choice by Trump to travel to reliably red states like Texas and Mississippi this week a good gambit?

• "He left Texas with more money, more votes, and more press than Hillary had this week."

• "Three million dollars"

• "Ground game is important, but the candidate's appearances are national. As long as one is having a fundraiser, why not go meet the troops? The concept of a candidate limiting his or her travels to 'battleground' states, at least in August or September of an election year, seems outmoded to me."

• "Smart to pick up as much cash as possible in friendly states, assuming he plans to be in the swing states in the fall."

• "Unconventional strategy for an unconventional candidate."


A recent survey by Public Policy Polling puts Trump's lead in Texas at 6 points. Where would you put it?

• "If Trump can't win Texas, the GOP is in for its worst defeat in the modern era. And this is to the biggest liar the Democrats have nominated in my lifetime."

• "I believe there is a large percentage of voters that want Trump on that wall, that need Trump on that wall, but refuse to admit in public they are voting for him."

• "Trump's margin over Clinton in Texas is less than six points right now, but it seems reasonable to assume that the margin will increase a bit before voting begins. However, that assumes that Trump doesn't do too many more phenomenally stupid things, so I'm not giving odds."

• "Someone I respect said, 'If I lived in a swing state, I may have to vote for Trump. In Texas, I do not.'"

• "He'll win Texas, but the Libertarian candidate is likely to get significant support."

Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Clyde Alexander, Jay Arnold, Dave Beckwith, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Kerry Cammack, Elna Christopher, Kevin Cooper, Randy Cubriel, Beth Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jack Erskine, Jon Fisher, Tom Forbes, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Deborah Ingersoll, Jason Johnson, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Ted Melina Raab, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, A.J. Rodriguez, Grant Ruckel, Tyler Ruud, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Bruce Scott, Steve Scurlock, Ben Sebree, Nancy Sims, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Mark Smith, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Tom Spilman, Sherry Sylvester, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Ware Wendell, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.

The Calendar

Sunday, Aug. 28

  • Travis County Democratic Party’s Anne McAfee Quartet of Stars Lunch, featuring keynote speaker Sarah Weddington; The Westin Austin at The Domain, 11301 Domain Drive, Austin (1 p.m.)

Monday, Aug. 29

  • State Rep. Wayne Faircloth, R-Galveston, First Annual Clay Shoot; Greater Houston Gun Club, 6700 McHard Road, Houston (8 a.m.)
  • Capitol Commission Texas Legislative Golf Classic; Falconhead Golf Club, 15201 Falcon Head Blvd., Austin (8:30 a.m.)

Tuesday, Aug. 30

  • State Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, fundraiser; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (4:30-6 p.m.)
  • State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, fundraiser; private residence, Dallas (5:30-7:30 p.m.)

Thursday, Sept. 1

  • State Rep. Borris Miles, D-Houston, fundraiser; Austin Club, 110 E. Ninth St., Austin (4-5:30 p.m.)

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The controversial chairman of the Travis County Republican Party has given up his post by running for president as a write-in candidate, Texas GOP officials said Thursday.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, speaking Tuesday in Austin, assailed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as unfit for public office in the wake of new reports about ties to her family foundation while serving as U.S. secretary of state.

While in Austin on Tuesday, Trump also said he is open to a "softening" in laws dealing with people who are in the country illegally, offering a pivot away from the hardline immigration views he espoused throughout the primaries.

Cocks Not Glocks, a UT-Austin group formed in response to legislation allowing concealed handguns on college campuses, passed out thousands of multicolored sex toys Tuesday evening in preparation for a Wednesday protest rally.

The Texas Education Agency is slapping the New Jersey-based company that administers the state's controversial STAAR tests with a $20.7 million fine over widespread technical issues.

Ramping up its fight over the rights of transgender people, Texas filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the federal government over a regulation prohibiting discrimination against transgender individuals in some health programs.

Federal regulators believe “there is a significant possibility” that a recent surge in North Texas earthquakes is linked to oil and gas activity, according to an evaluation done by the EPA.

A federal judge in Fort Worth blocked on Monday Obama administration guidelines directing the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identity.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott named Dawn Allison of El Campo to serve as the district attorney for the 329th Judicial District in Wharton County. The appointment runs through the November general election.

Abbott named Pam Guenther of Edna to serve as Jackson County Criminal District Attorney through the November general election.

Abbott appointed Brett Graham of Denison to the board of the Department of Motor Vehicles for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2017. He additionally named Kate Hardy of Trophy Club and Gary Painter of Midland to terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021. In separate action, Abbott named Raymond Palacios Jr. of El Paso to be board chairman.

Abbott named Vince E. Puente Sr. of Fort Worth to the Finance Commission of Texas for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2018.

Abbott named Ronald J. "Ron" Hermes of Seguin and reappointed Thomas O. “Tommy” Mathews II of Boerne and Dennis Patillo of Victoria for terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021, to the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Board of Directors.

Alicia B. Harvey-Smith has been named the next executive vice chancellor at Lone Star College. She is due to start her new job in October. She comes to Texas from River Valley Community College in New Hampshire where she is the college’s president. In addition, she serves on the executive board of the American Association of Community Colleges.

Deaths: Nelda Laney, 73, wife of former Texas House Speaker Pete Laney, died on Wednesday. During her husband’s five-term tenure as Speaker, Nelda Laney became well-known in her own right for her restoration efforts at the Capitol and for the creation of the Capitol Christmas ornament program. A visitation is set for 5 p.m. on Friday at Venue on Broadway in Lubbock with services scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Lubbock. She will be buried Tuesday at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

Disclosure: Lone Star College has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Quotes of the Week

Everything Trump promises comes with an expiration date. We knew it during the primary, and now it is apparent he has duped his most loyal supporters on the issue they care about most, immigration. Don't say we didn't warn them.

Amanda Carpenter, former Senate communications director for Ted Cruz, talking to Politico about Trump's recent language intimating a possible "softening" on his immigration policies

Everybody that's done this for a living and got paid to do it is, like, 'Oh, my gosh, suppose this works. We're all rendered useless.' He will have destroyed an entire profession.

Democratic political operative James Carville to The New Yorker on what Donald Trump's unorthodox campaign for president could mean for the political consulting industry

Every vote is important and we need to get every vote, but at some point it comes back to money. And we’re a county that, if we had a lot of money, yeah, we’d [vote] wherever, but we don’t.

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera, talking to The (McAllen) Monitor on the county's decision to have just one early voting site for the November general elections