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The Brief: Sept. 2, 2010

The ethics bug is back.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

The bug is back.

The Metroplex ethics bug, that is, which now appears to be wriggling its way into the closely watched House District 102 race between Democratic state Rep. Carol Kent and her Republican opponent, lawyer Stefani Carter.

But this race involves a little bit more juice, with both campaigns accusing the other of something akin to, well, stalking.

The Dallas Morning News reports that Carter's recent accusations that Kent double-dipped into campaign and taxpayer funds to cover expenses have quickly intensified this swing-district race, which previously saw Carter's opponents accusing her of plagiarizing Barack Obama.

Kent has defended herself, writing in a recent open letter to Carter, "I urge you to end your campaign's false, negative attacks today." Officials have said, the Morning News notes, that Kent's practice of augmenting her per diem offered by the state with campaign contributions is legal and common.

Both candidates have followed this back-and-forth by accusing each other of sending individuals to intimidate each other. Carter says her campaign staffers recently called the police when they saw "suspect vehicles" parked near their cars. Kent alleges that someone followed her while she drove through the district and then campaigned door to door.

"He hid his features behind dark glasses and a hat, would not identify himself when asked, and then ran away as soon as he saw someone pull out their cellphone camera," Kent wrote to Carter. "Your negative campaign tactics directly encourage this type of goon-squad behavior," she added.

Carter hit back: "It is these kinds of campaign shenanigans, personal attacks and dirty politics of which people are sick and tired going into November."

CULLED:

  • The Houston Chronicle has a rundown on voter registration controversy in Harris County, in which the Republican registrar has compared the Democrat-led voting operation Houston Votes to infamous community organization ACORN, and Houston Votes has accused the registrar of discouraging minority turnout.
  • Illegal immigration into the U.S. is on decline, the Pew Hispanic Center reported Wednesday. Though, Texas, isolated from much of the economic downturn that the report's authors attribute to the decline, has shown a relatively steady — though not significant — increase.

"If there was no question about the gold being there, you think they would be anxious to prove gold is there." — U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside, who said recently he plans to draft legislation next year to force an audit of U.S. gold holdings at Fort Knox and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

MUST-READ:

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson repays Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for scholarships, The Dallas Morning News

Blind trusts become gubernatorial campaign issue, Austin American-Statesman

A Stroke of Luck for the Democrats, Texas Observer

Is Longhorn Electricity Worth It?, The Texas Tribune

Mexican Reporter Seeks Asylum After Doing His Job, The Texas Tribune

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