The Brief: Texas Political News for Aug. 20, 2013

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on March 16, 2013.
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md., on March 16, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The persistent 2016 buzz surrounding U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz mounted on Monday as debate over his eligibility to run for president took a new twist.

As the Tribune's Jay Root reports, Cruz, who was born in Calgary to an American mother, said on Monday that he would renounce his Canadian citizenship, which he said he only learned about from a Dallas Morning News report published Sunday.

"Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter," he said in a statement. "Now The Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship. Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American."

Though Cruz has denied any interest in running for president, his high national profile and recent visits to states like Iowa have stoked speculation about his political ambitions, reviving debate over whether he would qualify to run for the nation's highest office. 

 

A spokeswoman for Cruz initially denied to the Morning News that Cruz held dual citizenship, but legal experts said his birth certificate — which he released to the paper — showed that he remained a citizen of both countries. 

Cruz, meanwhile, has returned to Texas this week to promote his push to shut down the federal government unless federal health care reform is defunded. Though the plan has drawn rebukes from top Republicans in Washington, Cruz has taken his effort on the road to try to mobilize grassroots energy behind the move.

"No elected officials in Washington can do this. Only you can do this," Cruz told a Tea Party gathering in Kingwood on Monday. "The only way this happens is if we see an army, a grassroots army of Americans, demanding that their elected officials do the right thing."

Culled

•    Emails suggest Perry backed criticism of UT's Powers (Houston Chronicle): "A month before the University of Texas regents voted to renew an investigation into the UT law school foundation, Gov. Rick Perry in an email to three regents accused UT-Austin President Bill Powers of spreading 'misinformation' to win political support and also warned the regents not to be 'out-lawyered on this foundation issue. … Fort Worth lawyer Gordon Appleman, a UT alum who is a member of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, said the communication confirms his suspicions that criticism of Powers has been directed by the governor. 'All this confirms what everyone has suspected: The governor is driving the train and these people are following obediently,' he said."

•    San Antonio Attorney to Review Complaint Against Perry (The Texas Tribune): "San Antonio defense attorney Michael McCrum has been appointed to investigate a complaint alleging that Gov. Rick Perry abused his power and violated state law when he threatened to cut funding for the state's Public Integrity Unit unless the district attorney who oversees it resigned. McCrum, a former federal prosecutor, will review a claim lodged by Texans for Public Justice, a left-leaning money-in-politics watchdog group, alleging that Perry tried to coerce Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg into resigning following her drunken driving conviction earlier this year."

•    Dallas County could take on Texas over voter ID law (The Dallas Morning News): "Dallas County commissioners on Tuesday could join a federal challenge to a controversial state law that requires voters to show photo identification. Commissioners are expected to vote on whether to hire a law firm to join a federal lawsuit at Tuesday’s regular meeting. The move would pit county leaders against state officials. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said last month he is also taking aim at Texas legislators’ voting laws."

•    S.A. Councilwoman Chan responds to criticism over anti-gay remarks (KENS 5): "After a firestorm erupted Friday over her anti-gay remarks, District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan on Monday issued her first public statement about controversial comments she made during a staff meeting earlier this year. … 'The comments from the staff meeting on May 21st were and are my personal opinions and thoughts as guaranteed to me by the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is unfortunate that a former member of my D9 Council team betrayed the trust of my staff members and me. I will fight, I will always fight for our freedom of speech, especially in a private setting.'"

Quote to Note: "It's dangerous. As a staffer, the last thing you want is a principal who tweets on their own." — Republican political consultant Matt Mackowiak on candidates, like Attorney General Greg Abbott, who directly control their own social media accounts

Must-Read

 

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