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The Brief: April 29, 2011

Comptroller Susan Combs, whose office exposed the Social Security numbers and other data of millions of Texans, struck a decidedly new tone Thursday.

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The Big Conversation:

Comptroller Susan Combs, whose office exposed the personal data of millions of Texans, struck a decidedly new tone Thursday.

A contrite Combs said she now takes full responsibility for the data exposure, which left the personal information, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, of 3.5 million Texans publicly available online for a year.

"We're the last door. We're it," Combs told Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune. "And as head of the agency, I am responsible."

The mea culpa marked a change of course for Combs, who, as news broke of the data breach earlier this month, fired several employees — but then tried to lay much of the blame at the feet of the agencies that had sent the information to her office.

Combs responded to complaints by issuing a letter to the affected Texans. Last week, the Trib's Ross Ramsey called it "a masterpiece of equivocation and prevarication, leaving a false impression without telling an outright lie."

But on Thursday, there was little equivocation. Combs said would use campaign funds to pay for one year of credit monitoring services as well as identity-restoration services for affected Texans.

As for the political ramifications — she has hinted she's eying a run for lieutenant governor — Combs said she isn't concerned with that right now. "My job is to not worry about anything political," she said. "My job — No. 1 — is to accept responsibility."


  • Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday slammed President Barack Obama for not yet responding to a request for disaster aid in light of wildfires that have swept through the state. "You have to ask, 'Why are you taking care of Alabama and other states?'" Perry said. "I know our letter didn't get lost in the mail." The White House said Obama will visit the state today.
  • U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, circulated a map Thursday that would carve a fourth congressional district out of Travis County. The plan, which Doggett said was drawn by Republicans, would theoretically alter the makeup of Doggett's heavily Democratic district in an attempt to obstruct his path to re-election. 

"The debate will not be about the merits but about personal attacks." — State Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, in response to a flurry of attacks from Democratic lawmakers during the redistricting debate alleging that Peña drew the map that altered his South Texas district, and that he doesn't live within his current district


Programming Round-Up:     

  • Session '11 (Austin, KXAN, Sunday, 9:30 a.m.): U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Austin 
  • Inside Texas Politics (Dallas-Fort Worth, WFAA-TV, Sunday, 9 a.m.): Dallas mayoral candidates David Kunkle, Edward Okpa, Ron Natinsky and Mike Rawlings

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