The Brief: Top Texas News for Aug. 17, 2010

THE BIG CONVERSATION:

If you're keeping a running tally of Texas ethics scandals (and who isn't?), that's one in and one out after Monday.

Out: Tom DeLay, that old familiar face who's laid relatively low since doing anything but lying relatively low on Dancing With the Stars in 2009. The former U.S. House majority leader from Sugar Land reappeared in the news Monday after Politico reported that the Department of Justice had dropped corruption charges against him in a protracted investigation into his ties to disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff. DeLay said Monday he was happy to have the case, which stretched on for six years , off his back and that he wasn't surprised to see the charges dropped. “I know this is the price of leadership, but frankly it doesn't have to happen this way," he said in a conference call with reporters. "I hope people will look at my case and decide the criminalization of politics and the politics of personal destruction is not beneficial to our country or our system."

Yet, as KUT News' Andy Uhler reports, DeLay isn't off the hook. He still faces money laundering and conspiracy charges, for which a hearing is scheduled for next week.

In: State Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, who on Monday admitted to The Associated Press that he had pocketed thousands of dollars in taxpayer money for travel expenses his campaign had already incurred. Driver — who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees state spending — said he's been submitting receipts to both his campaign and the Texas House for years. "Now you're scaring the heck out of me," he was quoted telling the AP. He later said Monday night that he would correct any mistakes.

 

CULLED:

  • Bond ratings agencies gave Texas high marks Friday, and Comptroller Susan Combs responded by touting the state's economic success. But a deeper dig into financial documents reveals something worrisome.
  • The Texas Supreme Court on Monday rejected Judge Sharon Keller's request for intervention in a rebuke from the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Keller subsequently filed a second appeal.

"It pretty well screws my week." — State Rep. Joe Driver, R-Garland, responding to Associated Press findings that he has pocketed thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds

MUST-READ:

Texas drops play from test after controversy over dialogue, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Undercount could cost El Paso House seat, El Paso Times

Budget shortfall could mean 7,300 layoffs for Texas prisons, Austin American-Statesman

Ambassadors Say Mexico Is Not a Failed State — The Texas Tribune


 

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