After a relative was arrested for allegedly shoplifting at a grocery store, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst personally called the Allen Police Department to ask how to get her out of jail, referring to himself as the "No. 1 pick of all the law enforcement agencies within Texas."
In an Aug. 3 recording originally released by police to the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate, NBC-DFW, Dewhurst identifies himself as the lieutenant governor and requests to speak to the police station's "most senior police officer you have there right now." He tells a police sergeant that his step-sister's daughter-in-law, Ellen Bevers, is a schoolteacher and "the sweetest woman in the world," and says he's sure she has been incarcerated on a "mistaken charge."
"If you would explain to me sergeant what I need to do to arrange for getting her out of jail this evening so that you can proceed with whatever you think … that is proper," Dewhurst says. "I’ve known this lady for 30 years of my life."
After Dewhurst says that he is going to have Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw call to confirm his identity, he goes on to explain that he is a supporter of law enforcement in the state.
"Sergeant, you don’t know me," he says. "I am every year the No. 1 pick of all of the law enforcement agencies within Texas, the No. 1 pick. I’m a supporter of you, and everyone in law enforcement. I want you to do whatever is the proper thing."
He asks who he needs to call to post bond for Bevers, and says while he appreciates law enforcement, this is a "situation I just hate to see."
Travis Considine, a spokesman for Dewhurst, said the lieutenant governor behaved appropriately in the call. Dewhurst, who is running for re-election with multiple GOP primary opponents in 2014, has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the incident.
"David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures," he said.
Shortly after reports of the call emerged, Dewhurst's political rivals in both parties began attacking his actions.
State Sen. Dan Patrick, a Houston Republican who is among Dewhurst's primary challengers, issued a statement saying he was "saddened and disappointed" to hear that the lieutenant governor "attempted to use his power and influence to get a family member out of jail."
"The fact that David Dewhurst believes he and his family are above the law is the height of arrogance and recklessness," he said. "This blatant abuse of power would be stunning coming from any elected official. However, it is particularly disturbing coming from the lieutenant governor of Texas.”
Another lieutenant governor hopeful, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, took to social media for his criticism. Referencing a Will Ferrell parody, he said in a tweet that "Dew's call to Allen PD sounds like Anchorman Ron Burgundy: 'I don't know how to put this, but I'm kind of a big deal. People know me.'" He also praised the Allen PD sergeant who "didn't bow to political pressure."
Leading the charge from the left was Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, who said in a statement the call was a "clear attempt to use his political position for influence, intimidation and preferential treatment."
"Our political leaders are not above the rest of Texans, nor should they expect to be treated so," he said. "Dewhurst has further disrespected the office of the lieutenant governor, and highlights the failure of leadership by those presently in power.”
Listen to the full recording below, courtesy of The Dallas Morning News' Robert Wilonsky.