Monday, March 16, 2015

Public Integrity Unit pulled away from Travis County DA

And placed in the Texas attorney general's office.  The bill -- SB 10 -- passed out of committee with all Repugs in favor and all Dems opposed.

Voting along party lines, the Senate State Affairs Committee on Monday voted to recommend the full Senate approve a proposal to move the state’s public corruption watchdog out of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.

For the better part of an hour, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, defended her bill while Democrats picked it apart and testimony was offered suggesting it would make public corruption much more difficult to prosecute. Somewhat emphatically, Huffman said she’s not carrying the legislation on behalf of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott or anyone else. This is her bill alone, Huffman said.

As written, the bill aims to move the prosecution of an officeholder to that official’s home county instead of Austin when they are formally accused of abusing their power. Huffman explained that under her revised version of this, the District Attorney in the official’s home county could be removed from a case if there was a potential conflict of interest.

Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice interprets it a little differently.

“SB 10 is a politicians dream, a virtual get-out-of-jail-free card for public officials. SB 10 creates a special legal system reserved for politicians only -- a system designed to end corruption prosecutions, not pursue them.

The bill is another attack on local control by big government Republicans. It strips all county district attorneys of their traditional power to prosecute corruption within their own jurisdictions. It transfers that power directly to the Attorney General.

Senator Huffman claims her bill will “restore public confidence” in corruption investigations and then hands those cases to a partisan attorney general, himself under a cloud of corruption allegations. In fact, punishing a corrupt politician under SB 10 requires the unanimous approval of the attorney general, the Texas Rangers, a state judge AND a district or county attorney SB 10 will likely breed more corruption by advertising the fact that there is no functioning deterrent.”

The TXGOP is only doing what the (historically low number of) 2014 voters elected them to do: cement one-party rule in Texas, as conservative as you can stand.

They haven't determined exactly how much we can stand yet, but that's on the docket.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Maybe that's why some of them oppose ending straight-ticket voting. They want a Tea Party GOP vs Straus GOP straight line in the primary?