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The Brief: July 19, 2012

Though they've been battling publicly for months, seeds of tension between Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst may have been planted years ago.

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The Big Conversation:

Though they've been battling publicly for months, seeds of tension between Ted Cruz and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst may have been planted years ago. 

As the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports today, disagreement between the two U.S. Senate candidates appears to date back to March 2009, when the state Senate took up debate on a voter ID bill.

Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate as lieutenant governor, invited Cruz, who had served as the state's solicitor general until 2008 and later joined a private firm, to advise the Senate on legal issues related to the bill. 

The intrigue? While Cruz's firm ultimately received $10,000 from the Texas Senate Republican Caucus for 70 hours of work, Cruz had initially billed nearly $50,000.

"It was shocking to receive such a large bill for such little work," said Rob Johnson, then Dewhurst’s chief of staff and the recipient of the original bill. (In addition to other senators, Dewhurst contributed $2,500 via his political account toward Cruz's payment.)

Cruz spokesman James Bernsen said he couldn't provide more details about the legal work or why the bill was reduced to $10,000 because of the "attorney-client privilege [Cruz] owes Lt. Gov. Dewhurst."

“It is ironic, however, that the Dewhurst campaign continues to attack Ted's prior legal clients, given that David Dewhurst is among them," Bernsen said, referring to Dewhurst's frequent attacks on Cruz's legal work for a Chinese tire-maker and a Pennsylvania developer involved in an infamous corruption scandal.

Dewhurst spokesman Mark Miner shot back: “What's not ironic is that we now know Ted Cruz chooses profit over principle whether he's 'working' on voter ID, for a felon who was an architect of one of the biggest judicial malpractice scandals in American history, or for a Chinese company that killed American jobs.”

Culled:

  • Texas has become the latest state looking to access a federal immigration database to check its voter registration records for noncitizens. The Department of Homeland Security last week granted Florida access to the database after a battle with the Obama administration over purging noncitizens from the state's rolls. It remains unclear, though, how exactly the states will use the system.
  • U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison told a women's conference on Wednesday that she had thought about running for president years ago but decided against it because of family obligations, the Huffington Post reports. "Yes I have," Hutchison said when asked whether she'd ever considered a presidential bid. "I would love to have had the right timing, but timing is everything in life." The retiring senator said traveling to Texas to spend time with her children on the weekends kept her from appearing on political TV shows and enhancing her national profile.
  • Comptroller Susan Combs announced Wednesday that the state will likely pull in $5 billion more in fees and taxes than expected this biennium, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Though the extra money will help state lawmakers pay for some major expenditures, it won't likely reverse the major cuts the Legislature made last year to areas like public education and health care.

"Houston is very tolerant of a lot of things. They want to know what you can do, not who you are." — Houston Mayor Annise Parker during her Wednesday night appearance on The Colbert Report

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