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David Dewhurst appears to be first lieutenant governor with state security detail, but he’s said he initially declined it

Todd Staples

Todd Staples, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Texas, charged incumbent David Dewhurst, standing to his left, with a self-oriented achievement.

 

At a Jan. 27, 2014, debate, hosted by KERA-TV, Channel 13 in Dallas, Staples, the state agriculture commissioner, said: “I wish the lieutenant governor was more focused on what we’re spending in public schools rather than… being the first lieutenant governor in history to have a personal security detail. I would be more worried about what’s going on in the security of our schools rather than having a personal security detail that drives you from place to place and sweeps rooms before you go in.”

 

Is Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor since 2003, making history with a security phalanx?

 

Law enforcement agency confirms

 

To our inquiry, Tom Vinger, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety, confirmed  that Dewhurst is the first lieutenant governor to have a state security detail. Asked if the detail is provided full time or on an as-needed basis, Vinger said the agency does not discuss security specifics.

 

Generally, Vinger told us by email, the DPS “is committed to protecting any state official that may be under threat conditions, especially considering that the threat environment has changed dramatically over the last decade,” Vinger said. “The Texas Government Code, Section 411.002(a)charges DPS with enforcing the laws protecting public safety and providing for the prevention and detection of crime.

 

“This includes any threat or attempt to physically harm any state official,” Vinger wrote. “The department deploys resources to detect and prevent such an act from occurring. Protecting the governor, lieutenant governor,” Texas House “speaker, attorney general and other state officials is a critical mission of the department, and DPS has a responsibility to perform these and other security related missions, such as protecting the state Capitol.”

 

Dewhurst: ‘I didn’t request protection’

 

Word of officials beyond Gov. Rick Perry getting greater security attention surfaced in early 2011, a year after a man fired shots on the south steps of the Texas Capitol before getting tackled by state troopers, according to a Jan. 21, 2010, Associated Press news story.

 

On Jan. 12, 2011, a news story in the Dallas Morning News called Dewhurst the “first Texas lieutenant governor to have a security detail, though governors have had them for years.”

 

But the story quoted an unidentified spokesman for Dewhurst saying that Dewhurst did not request the security.

 

In a political analysis published Jan. 14, 2011, Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune noted that Capitol security had been beefed up the year before in various ways including the placement of metal detectors at main entrances.

An Austin American-Statesman news story published that day quoted Dewhurst as saying that the DPS “came to me months ago and recommended security, but I have resisted. In December…Continued here: http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2014/jan/31/todd-staples/david-dewhurst-appears-be-first-lieutenant-governo/

Staples, Patrick each unload more than $2 million on TV

By

 

Lieutenant governor hopefuls Todd Staples and Dan Patrick have made fateful choices on spending the bulk of their campaign money, each dumping more than $2 million on TV buys last month, according to interviews and the candidates’ new finance reports.

 

Meanwhile, incumbent Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst held back during the latest reporting period.

 

Dewhurst, who has the ability to turn on a fire hydrant of personal dollars, spent only about $950,000 on his TV imagemakers between Jan. 1 and Jan. 23.

 

The fourth Republican candidate in the race, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, curtailed his spending. In the period, Patterson spent about $152,000, though he retained nearly $450,000 for the final mad dash to the March 4 GOP primary.

 

The big spender on ads was Staples, a two-term state agriculture commissioner, though you had to ask questions to get the full scoop.

 

On Monday, Staples initially filed a report showing that he paid his New Jersey-based media consultant, Jamestown Associates, about $592,000. However, spokesman Bryan Black said late Tuesday that because of a glitch the campaign’s ad spending was understated in the initial report. Staples’ total expenditures for the period were $2.69 million, and he actually spent $2.5 million for ads, Black said. That included statewide purchases of time on broadcast and cable TV channels and radio stations, he said. The campaign filed a corrected report Tuesday, Black said.

 

As of Jan. 23, Staples had $600,000 in the bank. He received $50,000 from Tyler oilman Curtis Mewbourne, one of his three biggest donors; and $10,000 from Houston businessman Johnny Johnson, president of Athlon Solutions, which refines chemicals and treats water.

 

Patrick, a state senator and radio station owner from Houston, paid more than $2 million last month to his San Francisco media consultant Bob Wickers for “electronic media placement,” according to his report to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Patrick, who has loaned his committee $1.25 million, ended the period with less than $290,000…Continued here: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2014/02/staples-patrick-each-unload-more-than-2-million-on-tv.html/

Annise Parker touches on importance of elections, unity at Creating Change

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the crowd at the national Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker was cheered to the stage by thousands of people when she was introduced Thursday evening as Mrs. Annise Parker at The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.

 

Parker married her longtime partner earlier this month in California. She welcomed the applause during her welcome address at the conference, now in its 26th year, which is in Houston for the first time.

 

“You’re acting as if you’ve never seen a lesbian before,” Parker said. “And, yes, this what a lesbian mayor looks like.”

 

While conference organizers had hoped to hold the event in Houston when Parker was mayor — she’s now in her third and final term — Parker said she wanted to be a part of the experience that happens when thousands of LGBT activists and advocates converge for the national gathering.

 

“It was important for me to be here tonight because one, you’re my family,” she said. “Two, it is important for the rest of the United States and the rest of the state of Texas to experience what we do here at Creating Change, and I wanted to be a part of that.

 

“And I get to home to my new wife,” she added.

 

Parker, who said she lit up City Hall in rainbow colors for the conference, touched on her citywide elections and how LGBT people can create change by electing the right people to any office.

 

“I’m here to tell you elections matter,” she said. “And when you put someone in the state house or in the city council chamber or in the mayor’s office, you can make a difference in the lives of people that you will never meet and never see, but you know that you are transforming people’s lives. And those mayors might do something like penning the most comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in the United States as their third executive act.”

 

Parker has said this term she plans to have the council pass a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to those in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

 

She also said people could elect a mayor who supports marriage equality. Parker is a co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and she encouraged attendees to go by Freedom to Marry’s booth and email their mayors to support marriage equality.

 

And with such a diverse representation of the LGBT community, Parker ended by encouraging the community’s strength to focus on common goals instead of divisive factors.

“The most important thing that we can do here today, this evening and at this conference, is to look around at who’s here with us, look at the strength we have as…Continued here: http://m.dallasvoice.com/annise-parker-touches-importance-elections-unity-creating-change-10166694.html?mobile-redirector-transfer=true

Speaker Straus to consider crowdfunding in Texas

Trying to Weigh the Value of Voter Guides

Ross Ramsey, the executive editor of The Texas Tribune, writes a regular column for The Tribune.

Republican candidates seeking office in Harris County must contend with a bit of old-school politics in the form of conservative groups endorsing slates of candidates and sending the lists to tens of thousands of primary voters.

The publishers of the slate cards will quickly tell you that the number of voters who get the cards is much bigger than that  — 200,000 or even 300,000.

Some mailings, like one called The Link Letter and another from the Conservative Republicans of Texas, are plain slate cards —  listings of the people who carry the endorsement of the organization, mailed with money paid to the publishers by or on behalf of the candidates. Others, like the Texas Conservative Review, a magazine that will be published before voting begins later this month, include advertising by candidates — some of whom carry the publication’s endorsement.

Most candidates are loath to talk about the slates, especially before they see the endorsements.

“I guess they’ve looked at my finance reports,” said Debra Medina, a candidate for state comptroller whose campaign coffers are dwarfed by her competitors. “There’s no point calling Debra and asking if she’s interested in this. I’ve never been contacted by them.”

She and others refer to the slates as “pay-to-play” operations — there is a general feeling among candidates that the endorsements are often contingent on whether the endorsers collect direct or indirect payments from the endorsees. The slate cards persist because the endorsements are useful to the thousands of Republican primary voters who receive them. If they were meaningless, nobody would play.

Gary Polland, who has been publishing the Texas Conservative Review for 13 years, says he allows candidates who are not endorsed by the group to pull their ads and get their money back before publication. “Anyone who wants to buy an ad can buy an ad,” he said. “It has nothing to do with…Continued here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/us/trying-to-weigh-the-value-of-voter-guides.html?_r=1

Endorsements That Sometimes Include a Financial Angle

Republican candidates seeking office in Harris County must contend with a bit of old-school politics in the form of conservative groups endorsing slates of candidates and sending the lists to tens of thousands of primary voters.

The publishers of the slate cards would leap to tell you that the number of voters who get the cards is much bigger than that — 200,000 or even 300,000.

Some mailings, like those from one called the Link Letter and another from the Conservative Republicans of Texas, are plain slate cards — listings of the people who carry the endorsement of the organization, mailed with money paid to the publishers by or on behalf of the candidates. Others, like the Texas Conservative Review, a magazine that will be published before voting begins later this month, include advertising by candidates — some of whom carry the publication’s endorsement.

Most candidates are loath to talk about the slates, especially before they see the endorsements.

“I guess they’ve looked at my finance reports,” said Debra Medina, a candidate for state comptroller whose campaign coffers are dwarfed by her competitors. “There’s no point calling Debra and asking if she’s interested in this. I’ve never been contacted by them.”

She and others refer to the slates as “pay-to-play” operations — there is a general feeling among candidates that the endorsements are often contingent on whether the endorsers collect direct or indirect payments from the endorsees. The slate cards persist because the endorsements are useful to the thousands of Republican primary voters who receive them. If they were meaningless, nobody would play.

Gary Polland, who has been publishing the Texas Conservative Review for 13 years, says he allows candidates who are not endorsed by the group to pull their ads and get their money back before publication. “Anyone who wants to buy an ad can buy an ad,” he said. “It has nothing to do with whether you got an endorsement.”

Half of the candidates endorsed by his publication in the last elections did not run ad, he said — including many in the legion of judicial candidates whose names crowded the bottom of Harris County’s long ballots.

Most candidates, trying to stretch their ad dollars, want to be on the slates, which many voters carry into the booth as cheat sheets.

Sounds dandy, right? Ask a candidate or a consultant. Their eyes might narrow, particularly if their political rivals won one or more of the endorsements. The skepticism comes from the way the slates work: The publications get the money for printing and distribution from the candidates and other political folk. To some, that makes sense; a candidate can communicate a trusted endorsement to that relatively small group of people who vote in Republican primaries. Through that lens, it can be an efficient and effective promotion.

But why would someone without an endorsement want to pay for the distribution of a slate that promotes another candidate? Polland addresses that by allowing candidates who are not endorsed to pull their ads, but campaign consultants regularly complain about the slates and say they feel pressured to take part. How they measure that pressure depends on their view of the circulations of the slates. The last two statewide Republican primaries were small enough to be won with fewer than 750,000 voters. A slate card reaching a quarter of those voters could provide an important boost, or heavy damage.

Harris County candidates have been grousing about the slates for years. This year, the grousing has moved up to some of the statewide races, attracting attention from local political observers like David Jennings, who has written extensively about the slates on his Big Jolly Politics blog.

Those statewide races are unusually competitive. The top seven races on the Republican primary ballot feature nearly two dozen serious candidates — people whose names, organizations or bank accounts are big enough to give them more than a long shot’s chance at winning the March 4 primary or making it into a runoff.

It is a large and competitive herd. The electorate is small. There are a lot of names to remember. The Olympics overlap the first week of early voting, providing a nettlesome distraction and raising the price of television ads.

When all of the top races are dominated by incumbents, the slates have to rely on local candidates for financial support. This year, they have the upper hand.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2014/02/07/endorsements-sometimes-include-financial-angle/.

TX: Rep. Darby ‘unlawful weapon carrry’ charge dropped

by Lou Ann Anderson

An unlawful weapon carrying charge against state Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, was dropped earlier this month in connection with the legislator’s Nov. 14 arrest by Transportation Security Administration officers after a handgun was discovered in his carry-on bag at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.

The Houston Chronicle recently reported on new Transportation Security Administration-released numbers regarding airport confiscations of guns. The Medill National Security Journalism Initiative analyzed cumulative TSA data from the agency’s official blog and while Atlanta came in first, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport were second and third for numbers of loaded or chambered handguns confiscated at TSA checkpoints during 2013.

 

The study further revealed that in 2013 an average of five guns per day was seized in airports across the nation. The 1,828 confiscated represent a third straight year of confiscation increases with last year marking the largest rise – up 20 percent. Note also this number is expected to rise slightly when the official year-end numbers are released.

 

The Chronicle further offered this perspective:

 

Brian Mobley, a concealed handgun instructor at the Arm’s Room in League City says the  rise in confiscated weapons has everything to do with the rise in number of Americans  who are carrying these days.

“Most of the weapons confiscated in 2013 had gun permits and were found in the carry-on luggage of passengers,” he says. Add to that a lack of gun education and you have problems at checkpoints.

An overwhelming number of the handguns found were .380s, which are popular with those who are licensed to carry a concealed handgun.

 

Fox News also reported:

 

Some experts say that the findings are not all that significant.

“If you look at the numbers, none of them are terrorists,” Douglas Laird, an airport security expert and former secret service agent told FoxNews.com. “They are people who violated TSA rules.”

“I have mixed feelings about the numbers,” he said, adding, “99.9999 percent of the people who had gun confiscated were not going to commit terrorist acts.”

 

Some may view Darby as receiving special treatment, but in reality, the dismissal of Darby’s charges was likely the more prudent move.

Darby, a concealed handgun license holder, was arrested when an X-ray machine… Continued here: http://watchdogwire.com/texas/2014/01/14/darby-unlawful-weapon-carrry-charge-dropped/

Wendy Davis supports open carry gun law in Texas

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUSTIN, Texas — The Wild West tradition of openly carrying your six-shooter on the street has long been banned in Texas under state law. But the next governor could change that.

Rising Democratic star and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis has joined her top Republican rival in supporting a proposed “open carry” law. It would allow people with concealed handgun licenses to wear a pistol on their hip, in full view, while in public.

Davis has said she supports expanding gun rights in Texas. In a statement to The Associated Press, she said that includes open-carry — a position that puts her at odds with her own party but could keep her from alienating gun rights advocates in a deeply conservative state where the Second Amendment is sacrosanct.

(QUIZ: Do you know Wendy Davis?)

Davis’ position now aligns her with her Republican gubernatorial rival, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, marking her latest effort to eliminate it as a wedge issue in the campaign.

The state senator from Fort Worth said such a law should allow private property owners to determine whether weapons could be openly carried on their property. She also said background checks and training requirements would “help ensure that only mentally stable, law-abiding citizens may carry, whether concealed or open.”

But her party and influential Democratic colleagues, including a fellow state senator running for lieutenant governor, disagree.

“There is little or no public safety justification for open carry,” said Emmanuel Garcia, spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party.

Kellye Burke, who leads the Texas Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, also opposes Davis’ position. She said the open carry of firearms, whether rifles or pistols, “is meant to be a sign of intimidation. It’s not about protection.”

“I don’t think people are aware of it. They just haven’t seen it yet. People are completely shocked how strange and lawless it looks to have that kind of firepower in our daily life,”
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2014/02/wendy-davis-guns-open-carry-law-texas-103198.html#ixzz2t5YP1I2K

Wendy Davis’ Open Carry Support Proves Texas Gov. Race All About Guns

Democrat gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’s johnny-come-lately support of Open Carry in the State of Texas proves what Breitbart News has said all along–the 2014 Texas gubernatorial election is a referendum on guns.

 

Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has known this all along. Thus, while Davis spent the last two months running on abortion–and then trying to plug holes in the dam of her personal bio–Abbott was assuring Texans that the debate on gun control was settled in 1791, when the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

 

In early November 2013, Abbott announced that he not only planned to protect concealed carry laws already on the books in Texas but to expand them, so as to allow the open carry of handguns as well. Citizens of Texas can already legally carry rifles in an open fashion.

 

According to Austin’s KVUE News, Abbott promised to push for “Campus Carry” as well, so that those with concealed carry permits can carry on a university campus for self-defense in the same way they carry in a department store, a restaurant, or on a dimly lit street.

 

As a Texas state senator Wendy Davis opposed Campus Carry in 2009 and in 2011. Her opposition to Campus Carry came on top of her opposition to gun shows and private gun sales at that shows.

But who knows? Now that Davis is for Open Carry she may soon show up at a gun show passing out fliers about her support…Continued here: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/02/06/Wendy-Davis-Support-Of-Open-Carry-Proves-Texas-Gov-Race-Is-All-About-Guns

 

Obama admin unilaterally changes law to allow immigrants with ‘limited’ terror contact into US

Caroline May

Political Reporter

The Obama administration has issued new exemptions to a law that bars certain asylum-seekers and refugees who provided “limited material support” to terrorists who are believed to pose no threat from the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department published the new exemptions Wednesday in the Federal Register to narrow a ban in the Immigration and Nationality Act excluding refugees and asylum seekers who had provided limited material support, no matter how minor, to terrorists.

“These exemptions cover five kinds of limited material support that have adversely and unfairly affected refugees and asylum seekers with no tangible connection to terrorism: material support that was insignificant in amount or provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, family or humanitarian interactions, or under significant pressure,” a DHS official explained to The Daily Caller.