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The Evening Brief: May 15, 2013

Your evening reading: Abbott urges groups to contact him if they were targeted by IRS; Gohmert rips Holder at hearing; Dewhurst calls for investigation of abortion provider

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, during a Senate Finance committee hearing on Feb. 5, 2013

Culled

•    Greg Abbott calls on Texas tea party groups to tell him if targeted by the IRS (The Dallas Morning News): "Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott says he wants tea party groups that have been targeted by the IRS to contact his office. Although Abbott doesn’t have any direct responsibility in the matter, he says a special federal prosecutor ought to be appointed to investigate the scandal. If that happens, he says he would forward the information to the [prosecutor]."

•    IRS Sent Same Letter to Democrats That Fed Tea Party Row (Bloomberg): "The Internal Revenue Service, under pressure after admitting it targeted anti-tax Tea Party groups for scrutiny in recent years, also had its eye on at least three Democratic-leaning organizations seeking nonprofit status. … Progress Texas, another of the organizations, faced the same lines of questioning as the Tea Party groups from the same IRS office that issued letters to the Republican-friendly applicants. A third group, Clean Elections Texas, which supports public funding of campaigns, also received IRS inquiries."

•    Small conservative groups describe big burdens of IRS scrutiny (Reuters): "Toby Marie Walker, a leader of the Waco Tea Party in Texas, said her group raised only about $5,000 last year and had to seek free legal assistance to deal with the IRS. Walker said some questions — such as one asking if she had personal relationships with political figures — were 'entirely subjective and almost impossible to answer.'"

•    The Most Bizarre Moment From Attorney General Eric Holder's Congressional Hearing (Business Insider): "Attorney General Eric Holder's hearing before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday grew heated, as members of Congress grilled him on everything from the Justice Department's obtaining of Associated Press phone records to President Barack Obama's Labor Secretary nominee, Thomas Perez. … He then rambled something that sounded like he was accusing Holder of 'casting aspersions on my asparagus.'"

•    Sen. John Cornyn still opposes shield law for journalists, after AP phone flap prompts White House push (The Dallas Morning News): "Sen. John Cornyn sent Attorney General Eric Holder a terse letter today scolding the Justice Department for scooping up AP reporters’ phone records. But as for the White House’s fresh push for a federal 'shield law' for journalists, Cornyn remains uninterested. 'It’s a clear effort to distract attention,' the Texas Republican said of the administration’s request to Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to dust off a shield law plan that died two years ago. 'My position hasn’t changed on that.'"

•    Ex-EMT in Texas pleads not guilty to charges (The Associated Press): "A first responder who helped evacuate people ahead of a deadly explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a charge he possessed bomb-making materials. Bryce Reed was arrested last week and indicted Tuesday on a charge of possessing an unregistered firearm. Authorities have not announced any link between Reed and the April 17 blast in West, Texas, which killed 14 people."

New in The Texas Tribune

•    Dewhurst Calls for Investigation of Abortion Provider: "Harris County authorities and the Texas Department of State Health Services are investigating a Houston doctor accused Wednesday by an anti-abortion group of performing late-term abortions in 2011."

•    Hope Remains for Partial Victory on Road Cash: "With less than two weeks before the end of the 83rd legislative session, efforts to find more funding for the Texas Department of Transportation are sputtering."

•    GOP Donor Releases Songs Opposing "Obamacare": "Last week Houston physician Steve Hotze, a major Republican campaign donor, announced he was suing the federal government over the Affordable Care Act. This week, he's singing a similar tune — literally."

•    New Regent Requirements Head to Governor's Desk: "After the Senate concurred with amendments in the House, a bill adding restrictions and requirements for regents of the state's university systems is on its way to the governor's desk."

•    After West Disaster, Little Discussion on Soil Issues: "As the fertilizer plant explosion in West continues to elicit debate about regulation, one factor that hasn’t been discussed as much is the soil in Central Texas. The Hill Country's soil makes ammonium nitrate a well-suited fertilizer for farmers' needs."

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