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February 23, 2018      2:00 PM

Speaker Straus encourages teachers in his district to get out the vote

After Empower sent letters to educators threatening the ISDs superintendent, Straus said "This group apparently feels threatened by the fact that education leaders are encouraging civic participation."

After Empower Texans over the past week sent letters to employees in multiple school districts asking whether superintendents and school board members were breaking the law by encouraging voting, Speaker Joe Straus said “This group apparently feels threatened by the fact that education leaders are encouraging civic participation.”

In an email to voters in his district, Straus said “I've often said that we need more Texans voting in primaries so that candidates are responsive and accountable to a broader set of Texans and their concerns.”

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February 22, 2018      11:55 PM

Ann Quirk Erben, Pioneer in Texas GOP passed away

Arrangements will be forthcoming

Ann Quirk Erben's daughters Molly and Nancy Shellhorse reached out to tell the Capitol community of Ann Quirk Erben's death. Erben started in Bexar County politics in 1968, worked on Richard Nixon's campaign. She worked in the offices of Gov. Bill Clements, Sen. Drew Nixon, Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn and Tom Pauken. She also was the head of the Texas Women's Commission.

Here is the statement:

"It is with great sadness that the Shellhorse and Quirk Families inform you that our dear mother Ann Quirk Erben has passed away. Ann’s mark will forever be impressed on the political history of Texas. We are so proud of all her accomplishments and look towards celebrating her life with all those she knew and loved. Arrangement are being made and will be shared as soon as they are available".

Like almost everyone else that knew her, we here at Quorum Report loved Ann and her combination of shrewd political analysis and deep passion for her work and her friends. We will miss her laugh, her smile and her political realism....HK

February 22, 2018      6:46 PM

Texas Senate Democratic Caucus calls on Sen. Uresti to resign

February 22, 2018      6:07 PM

The Catholic Church blasts Texas Right to Life scorecard for blatant hypocrisy, misrepresentations

“Unfortunately, a number of legislators who have consistently voted for pro-life and end of life legislation have been opposed by Texas Right to Life.”

The statement on Texas Right to Life issued this evening by the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops can be read in full here.

This comes as numerous incumbent Texas House Republicans who have 100% scores from Texas Right to Life have the group endorsing against them in their primaries.

February 22, 2018      5:10 PM

School finance commission digs into the issue of teacher compensation

Now they’re starting to get into the weeds, plus working groups are appointed for revenue, expenditures, and outcomes in education

Education Commissioner Mike Morath’s proposed teacher incentive pay plan, modeled on one used by the Dallas Independent School District, has re-emerged as part of the scope of the Texas Commission on Public School Finance.

Chair Scott Brister signaled early, at the governor’s request, the 13-member appointed panel would take up how money could be used most effectively as well as how to fund education. That’s resulted in the appointment of three working groups: revenue, expenditures and outcomes.

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By Kimberly Reeves

February 22, 2018      4:55 PM

Following conviction, Lt. Gov. Patrick strips Sen. Uresti of committee assignments

"I will replace him in those positions shortly so that the work of these committees can continue to move forward.”

Following the conviction of Sen. Carlos Uresti in his San Antonio fraud trial, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Thursday wasted little time in stripping him of some of his powers as a senator.

“I have confidence in our judicial system and the jury has spoken. Though I recognize that Sen. Uresti is entitled to exercise his right to appeal, my first priority is to the people of Texas,” Patrick said. “Therefore, I will take immediate steps that will allow the members of the Texas Senate to focus on the critical issues facing our state as we prepare for the next legislative session.”

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By Scott Braddock

February 22, 2018      4:53 PM

Press Releases: Opioids, Billy Graham, Uresti, attack ads, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

February 22, 2018      1:05 PM

Abbott appoints Peter Lake and Brooke Paup to TWBD

The announcement from the governor’s office is here.

February 22, 2018      10:55 AM

Breaking: Uresti guilty on multiple counts in criminal fraud trial

After deliberating for 11 hours, the jury found him guilty of multiple felonies including fraud. He vows to appeal. Developing....

February 21, 2018      10:41 PM

Chair Larson fires back after Abbott rallies for his opponent in San Antonio

“Let’s be clear: he’s attacking me because I passed legislation saying we should eliminate pay-to-play for gubernatorial appointments.”

After Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday led a rally in San Antonio against the reelection of Chair Lyle Larson calling the incumbent “liberal” roughly 21 times in 7 minutes, Larson said it simply comes down to the governor’s aversion to reforming the "pay-for-play" activities that happen in his office.

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February 21, 2018      10:40 PM

Audio: Sen. Hall on radio answering Burkett mailers about his alleged domestic violence history

In radio ad, Hall’s camp says mailers “are completely false"

You can hear the radio ads airing in the district right here. In some browsers you may have to right click the link and select open in new tab.

February 21, 2018      5:17 PM

Judge orders Hays County judicial candidate Wetmore to show up in court, explain Phoenix Foundation role

"He’s been avoiding this reckoning for nearly three years despite a clear duty to make this information public”

After he failed to show up in court today, Hays County judicial candidate Ben Wetmore was ordered by a Travis County judge to appear before her on March 7 and explain where hundreds of thousands of dollars went in connection with secret surveillance of lawmakers and others in Austin back in 2015.

As Quorum Report first told you last week, years of litigation finally revealed that Wetmore, not “founder” Joe Basel, was really the one moving the money around at the now-defunct American Phoenix Foundation. That revelation came as Wetmore is running against State District Court Judge Bill Henry in the Republican primary in Hays County.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

February 21, 2018      5:12 PM

Press Releases: DACA information, campaign attacks, endorsements, and more

Click the Press Releases button above to see the latest

February 21, 2018      2:35 PM

Faircloth campaign asks whether Middleton has committed voter fraud over the years

Pointing to requests for absentee ballots mailed to Houston and Harris County property tax protests, Faircloth asks Middleton to explain where he’s been living; this comes as Gov. Abbott heads to the coast to rally for Middleton

GALVESTON – In the hours before Gov. Greg Abbott is set to rally the troops here on the coast for the GOP challenger to Rep. Wayne Faircloth, the incumbent's campaign called on candidate Mayes Middleton to explain whether he's engaged in voter fraud over the years.

Saying they've just completed "extensive research," Rep. Faircloth's campaign said public statements and public documents raise serious questions as to whether Middleton really lived where he was voting over the years as he tried to establish that he resides in Texas House District 23 including Galveston and Chambers Counties.

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By Scott Braddock

February 21, 2018      11:31 AM

Video: Faircloth on TV slams Middleton for living outside district

As Abbott prepares to rally in Galveston for challenger, Faircloth says Middleton claimed to live in Houston for 20 years while also claiming Chambers County; has a big tax exemption on his "Houston mansion" and says "while he gets a special tax break he wants to cut school funding for our kids."

February 20, 2018      6:47 PM

Gov. Abbott frames Davis vs Dokupil race as fight for the future of the GOP and Texas

In stump speech, Abbott says Chair Davis should be “telling people that she is the Democrat that she votes to be”; Davis launches TV ads warning of Dokupil’s “whacky” ideas and dangerous allies

BELLAIRE – One day after his top strategist Dave Carney said all Texas House Republicans are Democrats, Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday took his vendetta against non-compliant members of the Legislature to the next level with the first of a series of rallies for GOP challengers.

The one this evening was for Chair Sarah Davis’ primary opponent Susanna Dokupil, a former employee of Abbott’s when he was Attorney General.

Because nothing says “Bellaire” quite like “Kingwood,” co-founder of the Kingwood Tea Party Robin Lennon introduced Dokupil to a small crowd gathered at Evelyn’s Park.

“I never wanted to be a politician. Never,” Dokupil said. “What changed that for me was the last legislative session,” she said, arguing Davis and other House Republicans were guilty of “blocking solid conservative reforms.”

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By Scott Braddock

February 20, 2018      6:45 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, priorities, recycling, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

February 20, 2018      3:26 PM

Abbott appoints former San Angelo Mayor Alvin New to Texas Transportation Commission

Chairman Drew Darby sends congrats, saying "Alvin will work hard to keep the Texas Department of Transportation focused on building and maintaining safe roads to keep Texas moving."

February 20, 2018      12:04 PM

Updated: Angela Paxton campaign poll has her up 15 points over Phillip Huffines

Paxton’s camp said “Paxton’s momentum in this campaign is quite powerful”; Huffines’ folks said the poll looks bogus

In a campaign memo from Kevin Brannon, the general consultant for Angela Paxton’s Texas Senate campaign, he said she has an impressive lead over Phillip Huffines in the GOP primary.

“New polling data shows that State Senate Candidate Angela Paxton now has a commanding 15-point lead in the race for Senate District 8, numbers which continue the trend shown in our previous survey,” Brannon said. “With early voting underway, Angela Paxton now leads Phillip Huffines 47%-32%.   Angela is performing even better among subgroups that are important in a GOP primary.”

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By Scott Braddock

February 20, 2018      10:33 AM

Video: Abbott up on TV opposing Chairman Lyle Larson

Here's what at least two fundraising emails per day from Abbott's campaign is buying

February 20, 2018      10:29 AM

Updated: Ahead of Abbott rallies for their opponents, Texas House GOP Caucus issues statements of support for Davis, Faircloth

In response, Abbott consultant Dave Carney called them all Democrats; Chair Davis said he may be "cresting in an alternate reality."

Editor’s note: This story has again been updated, this time to include comments from Chair Davis ahead of today’s rally in Houston, including her take on Dave Carney calling all Texas House Republicans “dems” – SB

As Gov. Greg Abbott prepares to hit this road for campaign rallies in Houston and Galveston today and tomorrow for the opponents of Representatives Sarah Davis and Wayne Faircloth, the Texas House GOP Caucus on Monday issued statements of support for both.

It would seem to be a benign gesture by the Republican members for their colleagues in contested primaries.

But what unfolded next included Gov. Abbott’s chief consultant Dave Carney calling the entire caucus a bunch of Democrats followed by members of the Freedom Caucus signaling that House Republicans should be able to support whomever they wish for an elected office.

That stance, by the way, contradicts their demands for a united caucus when it’s time to choose a presiding officer.

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By Scott Braddock

February 20, 2018      9:39 AM

Video: Leal on TV with attack ad against Sen. Seliger

Axiom Strategies appears to now be helping GOP challenger Leal along with Allen Blakemore

February 19, 2018      4:32 PM

Press Releases: Endorsements, endorsements, endorsements (it is that time of year)

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

February 19, 2018      1:20 PM

Facing first primary in years, Chair Price battles blizzard of Empower Texans mailers

Meantime, Price’s opponent on the ballot Drew Brassfield will not say if he’ll resign his city manager job if elected

AMARILLO – For the first time since he defeated restaurant owner and former Texas Public Policy Foundation board member Victor Leal for an open seat in a GOP primary back in 2010, Texas House Public Health Committee Chairman Four Price faces a primary driven almost exclusively by third-party groups that have in previous cycles been busy with other officeholders.

Chair Price’s challenger, Drew Brassfield, is the city manager in Fritch. It’s a town of about 2,000 people 30 miles outside Amarillo. “I want the voters to have an option, and I think the voters around here want conservative leadership,” Brassfield said in kicking off his campaign. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Following key retirements from the House, it’s evident those third-party groups – primarily Chairman Tim Dunn’s Empower Texans – have been figuring out where they can best spend their considerable resources. It’s become clearer now that any member who has even been whispered about as a potential speaker candidate is definitely in the firing line. Of course, that chatter has been above a whisper when it comes to Chair Price.

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By Scott Braddock

February 19, 2018      12:37 PM

Coppedge: Appellate court races 2018, an overview

Part one: Statewide Courts

Another political season is underway and in Texas this cycle there may not be any surprises. It is hard to imagine that the Governor’s race will actually turn into a competitive contest, despite the Democrats biannual "Rite of Optimism" where they conjure up all sorts of things that will make it come up roses for them. (Memo:  Greg Abbott is not Roy Moore).  And the U.S. Senate race will likely be the same. 

There will be some interest in the Appellate Judicial races but this time the focus will not be on the Texas Supreme Court but on some of the Courts of Appeals. It should be remembered that any contests that really matter for the two statewide courts occur in the Republican Primary and there are only two of those in March. 

Texas Supreme Court--this nine-judge court is all Republican.  A Democrat has not won a seat on this court since 1994.

The complete column by Dr. John Coppedge can be found in the R&D Department.

By Dr. John Coppedge

February 17, 2018      10:56 AM

Updated: Several Texas House candidates fail to disclose hefty contributions from Empower Texans PAC

Donations range from $75K to $10K, many in hot races

Several Republican Texas House candidates failed to disclose tens of thousands of dollars in donations to their campaigns from Empower Texans PAC, according to campaign finance filings with the state.

The political action committee reported the donations to the five candidates in their 30 day reports.

Four of the candidates are running against incumbents in closely watched races.

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By James Russell

February 16, 2018      4:55 PM

Hays County judicial candidate fights against testifying about role in Phoenix Foundation

Bresnen wants to depose Ben Wetmore, demanding to know where hundreds of thousands of dollars went

Ben Wetmore, the Hays County judicial candidate who this week was outed as playing a major role in the group that secretly filmed people at the Texas Capitol in 2015, is refusing to testify about what happened to a large amount of money funneled through the American Phoenix Foundation.

Records uncovered through years of litigation pursued by lobbyist Steve Bresnen revealed this week that Wetmore, who APF founder Joe Basel has called a “mentor,” deposited nearly $700,000 into accounts held by “other, unrelated entities with which Wetmore was also deeply involved.That information came from a review of financial records now on file at the Travis County Courthouse.

Wetmore is now running for State District Court Judge in Hays County

Bresnen had subpoenaed Wetmore to give a deposition on Valentine's day – though, there is no love lost between the two men. The day before that, on the 13th, Wetmore filed a motion with the court refusing to give a deposition.

The rest of the story, subscribers only

By Scott Braddock

February 16, 2018      4:54 PM

Press Releases: Bail bonds case, Dreamers in the lurch, endorsements, announcements, and more

Click the Press Releases button above for the latest

February 16, 2018      4:52 PM

Following cease and desist letter from AG, ISDs carefully ensure they are in compliance with the law

Putting aside Twitter accounts, which cost no money to users, there’s been no evidence of taxpayer dollars spent on electioneering

Attorney General Ken Paxton’s effort to curtail school districts’ social media activity in elections this week has not been greeted with enthusiasm from the education community. That’s probably an understatement.

Superintendent Kevin Dyes of Holliday Independent School District said his district would comply with Paxton’s request and move on. But he also questioned why Holliday was targeted.

“It is puzzling why the Attorney General felt compelled to pick-on Holliday ISD, a small school district in Archer County, and appears to be just another example of heavy-handed politics out of Austin,” Dyes said in a statement he released today, the same day responses were due to Paxton’s office.

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By Kimberly Reeves

February 16, 2018      4:45 PM

Timeline for federal funding of Harris County flood control projects is fluid

“Sometimes you have to admit that Mother Nature wins,” Judge Emmett said. “You have to quit building in areas where waterways are and start building green space.”

The Army Corps of Engineers will play a pivotal role in when and how Harris County Judge Ed Emmett pulls the trigger on a potential $2 billion bond package to address major flood control projects.

Emmett has made it clear he wants Texas lawmakers to pull $500 million out of the state’s Rainy Day Fund to cover the third reservoir that leaders agree the region needs. During a House Transportation hearing last week, Rep. Sefronia Thompson, D-Houston, asked Emmett what other projects he had in mind to address area flooding. Thompson’s district is boxed in between Hall and Greens Bayous, and helicopters had to make multiple water rescues in that area.

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By Kimberly Reeves

February 16, 2018      2:34 PM

Governor Abbott sets May 5 special election fill Schubert House seat

Early vote will start April 23

February 16, 2018      10:34 AM

Lt. Gov. Patrick endorses Angela Paxton over Huffines in Senate bid

Patrick says he couldn't stay on the sidelines after Huffines' "personal attacks" on Paxton