Discovered Letter from Dan Branch Suggests He 'Blurred' Facts to Texas Tribune
HOUSTON, Texas--Former AFL-CIO union group lobbyist and State Representative Dan Branch, now a candidate for Texas Attorney General, denied any improper involvement in writing letters to universities for students seeking admission during a Texas Tribune interview. A document obtained by Breitbart Texas appears to contradict Branch's claim.
During an interview on the Texas Tribune’s TRIBLIVE on May 8th, Branch was asked by a member of the audience, “Representative Branch, in your position on the Higher Ed Committee, have you ever exerted influence behind the scenes to get someone into UT or UT Law School?” Branch responded firmly, “I have not.”
Evan Smith, the paper's Editor-in-Chief, followed up by asking a broader question: “You’ve never written a letter to a University President? You’ve never written a letter—none of the stuff that’s been alleged of other members, you would...?”
Branch responded to Smith’s question by making a distinction between the role of a State Rep. and the role of a Committee Chairman. “Hey, I have, when I wasn’t—look—I wasn’t in Higher Ed for the first six years, so I didn’t come to that committee until, I think, 2009. So, when you’re a state representative and your constituents come to you and say, ‘Hey, would you write a letter for my student or my son?’ If you know them or they come by or sometimes they come by for an interview, then I think it’s your job as the state representative to try and help your constituents. Once I became Chair of Higher Ed, I have backed away from that and told people I don’t write letters of recommendation—even my own constituents. So I’ve tried to push away from that because I don’t want to create an appearance issue.”
Representative Branch was appointed chairman of the House Higher Education Committee by House Speaker Joe Straus on February 12, 2009, according to the Speaker’s press release. On that same day, Rep. Branch issued his own press release acknowledging the appointment as chairman of the committee. One week later, Chairman Branch allegedly sent a letter dated February 19, 2009, to the University of Texas President, William C. Powers, Jr. on behalf of a student seeking admission to the university for the Fall 2009 semester. A photograph of a screen image of the letter can be seen below. The letter is redacted to protect the private information of the student involved in the letter.
The letter, purportedly signed by Branch, stated, “I would encourage your admissions team to please give him [the student] serious consideration in their selection process. If I can be of any assistance, please contact me.”
If the letter is accurate, it appears to be in direct conflict with the answers Branch gave to both the audience member and Evan Smith, because the letter was written one week after Branch was appointed to the chairmanship of the Higher education committee.
Breitbart Texas has reached out at the time of this publication to Branch’s campaign manager, Enrique Marquez, and asked for clarification about the accuracy of the answer given by Rep. Branch to the audience member and Evan Smith.
Branch Letter to UT President
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