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The Brief: Sept. 1, 2010

Is $2 million a sufficient consolation prize for losing the governor's race?

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

Is $2 million a sufficient consolation prize for losing the governor's race?

Ask Chris Bell (remember him?), the Democratic gubernatorial nominee who lost to Rick Perry in 2006. Bell filed suit against the Perry campaign and the Republican Governors Association two months after his defeat, claiming they broke state law by hiding $1 million in donations made to Perry in the final days of the campaign.

On Tuesday, a state district judge sided with Bell, ordering the Governors Association to pay him $2 million, adding to the $426,000 Bell received in March from the Perry campaign in a settlement that struck the governor from the lawsuit.

"I think it's a victory for transparency," Bell said Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. "That's what the whole case was always about. That's why we have election laws, so the public will know the source of contributions. We always felt this was a rather clear attempt to hide the real source of that contribution." (The Chronicle reported in 2007 that the donation likely came from Bob Perry, the Houston homebuilder and prolific campaign contributor who bears no familial relation to the governor.)

The Governors Association said it would appeal the decision. "Today's ruling is just one step in a four-year political lawsuit brought by Democrat trial lawyer and failed gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell," said association spokesman Mike Schrimpf. "We believe the judge ruled incorrectly and are confident we will win on appeal, which we will file immediately. Unfortunately, this junk lawsuit has gone on for four years, and to the Democratic trial lawyers' dreams, will likely go on two or three more. The good news is that it won't divert from our efforts to win in Texas or any other state this cycle."

CULLED:

  • Talk turned to term limits in the governor's race Tuesday, with Democrat Bill White calling for a constitutional amendment to impose a two-term cap on the state's top post. Gov. Rick Perry, seeking a third term, called the idea unnecessary, invoking University of Texas football coach Mack Brown. "University of Texas football loyalists probably don't want term limits for [Brown]. He's been successful."
  • A Texas Department of Transportation study set for release today names the state's 100 most congested roadways. The Tribune got an early look at the report, which our own Matt Stiles has laid out with an interactive feature
  • The Dallas Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, at the urging of Attorney General Greg Abbott, that two men who married in Massachusetts cannot dissolve their union in Texas. Randall Terrell, of the gay rights advocacy group Equality Texas, said after the ruling that the case, if the parties push for it, could potentially wind its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I don’t think that’s the kind of event, that if most Midlanders were aware of it, they would want in this community." — Midland County District Attorney Teresa Clingman on a local swingers convention that, officials confirmed Tuesday, has been canceled amid pressure

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Dallas County DA Craig Watkins' role in sex abuse case under fire, The Dallas Morning News

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