THE BIG CONVERSATION:
Already one to watch, the race for House District 96 just became one to watch intently.
That's because the race, which the Tribune deemed one of the 21 most competitive House races this fall, was thrown for a loop Thursday after a report accused one candidate of abusing his legislative authority.
The Trib reported Thursday that former state Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, used his political office to obtain private records from the Texas Medical Board, including some concerning doctors who had donated to his campaign. Zedler, now running to reclaim the House seat he lost in 2008, said he was simply acting to defend doctors targeted for investigation by a "corrupt" medical board. (Legislators may request such documents, but only for legislative purposes.)
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Zedler sharply criticized the report, saying in a statement Thursday that "there is no doubt that this article, filled full of inaccuracies, is a direct retaliation from those who don't like me investigating those irregularities."
Chris Turner, the Democratic incumbent who took over the seat from Zedler in 2008, appeared to be ready to use the issue against his opponent. "Lawmakers should not have access to these records, and I'm not aware of legislators using their ability to get these records except for this case of my opponent," he told the Star-Telegram, adding: "The first thing any candidate for public office has to do is demonstrate they have the public trust. By his admissions in [the] story he has admitted that he has violated the public trust in his prior term in office."
Staying on message, Zedler fired back: "I [am] sure he wants to talk about anything and everything other than his liberal voting record,"
- Gov. Rick Perry's still challenging state officials' budget shortfall projections, which now show a $21 billion hole. "That's just rank political rhetoric," Perry said during a TV interview. The real number, he said, likely falls somewhere between $10 billion and $11 billion.
- Your sobering news for the day: More than 4 million Texans — 1.8 million of whom were children — lived in poverty last year, the Census Bureau announced Thursday.
- The state of Texas has dug in its heels in its challenge to federal greenhouse gas regulation, filing four new motions against the Environmental Protection Agency.
- The Texas Forensic Science Commission will meet today to address the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, the Corsicana man executed in 2004 for the arson deaths of his three daughters, for the final time — and the commission looks ready to find that arson investigators committed no wrongdoing.
- A judge on Thursday rejected a motion to close a pretrial hearing for Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood last year.
"Rick Perry now refers himself as a 'good ol' fighting Aggie' and calls me a "Harvard boy." OK. At age 20 I helped put together a bipartisan coalition to pass legislation to reduce oil imports through energy efficiency and a stronger domestic oil and gas business. Then I returned to Harvard and then UT. At the same age Rick was a yell leader, which is great. Surely both Rick's parents and mine were proud of us." — Bill White in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday in response to earlier comments from Gov. Rick Perry
Recession Creates an Opening for Democrat in Texas, The New York Times
Arson not ruled out in voting device fire, Houston Chronicle
Board Of Education Member Says Standards ‘The Pulse Of Texas', Tyler Morning Telegraph
Police details reveal final acts of Coppell Mayor Jayne Peters after killing daughter, The Dallas Morning News
City Jails Unregulated Despite Deaths, Complaints, The Texas Tribune
A Conversation With State Rep. Debbie Riddle, The Texas Tribune