The Texas State Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would move pubic integrity cases out of Travis County. The bill passed 20-11 on partisan lines.
Senate Bill 10, authored by Republican Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston), places the state’s Public Integrity Unit investigation with the Texas Rangers. If the Rangers find wrongdoing, they would forward the case to the district attorney’s office in the county where the official is from. The Senate Bill was passed as amended.
The Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office has been the source of criticism by Republicans who say the unit has been used to further partisan motivated criminal indictments. Indictments of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and Governor Rick Perry, have been the source of this criticism.
Governor Perry was indicted for abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public servant by the Travis County District Attorney in 2014. Perry has called his indictments an outrageous abuse of power. While Governor, Perry threatened to veto, and did veto, funding for the Public Integrity Unit. Perry had called for Travis County District Attorney’s Lehmberg’s resignation after she was arrested and pled guilty to drunken driving. Lehmberg oversees the offices’ Public Integrity Unit. Perry’s case is pending.
Then House Majority Leader DeLay was indicted when Ronnie Earle was the Travis County District Attorney. Earle brought indictments against DeLay and Hutchison. DeLay has called the indictments in Travis County “The Criminalization of Politics.” He was indicted and found guilty by a Travis County jury but was later exonerated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after years of litigation and appeals.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2