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The Brief: April 4, 2014

A special prosecutor wouldn't say whether Rick Perry committed a crime when he vetoed funds for the Travis County district attorney, but a case could be presented to a grand jury this month.

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to step down after her April 2013 drunken driving arrest, and Gov. Rick Perry vetoed funding for the public integrity unit, which is housed in the Travis County DA's office.

The Big Conversation

A special prosecutor looking into Gov. Rick Perry's attempts to force Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after a drunken driving conviction last year is expected to take the case to a grand jury later this month. Meanwhile, the Austin American-Statesman's Tony Plohetski reports that the prosecutor, Michael McCrum, is "very concerned about certain aspects of what happened here."

Plohetski added, "Asked if his concerns pointed specifically at Perry or his staff, McCrum said, 'Yes.'”

Perry's threats to veto state funding for the Travis County DA's Public Integrity Unit — on which he ultimately carried through — prompted a complaint from campaign watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. Plohetski reported that McCrum wouldn't talk about possible charges, although the original complaint accused Perry of bribery, coercion and abuse of official capacity.

A Perry spokeswoman told the Statesman that the governor was exercising his veto authority under the Constitution when he removed funding for the Public Integrity Unit. Perry today is at Fort Hood, where he will appear at a press conference before leaving for the Pacific island of Palau to take part in a two-week hunt for remains of downed World War II pilots, the Tribune's Terri Langford reported.

The Day Ahead

•    The bus tour of Democratic lite guv candidate Leticia Van de Putte hits Houston on Saturday with a supporter rally and a meeting with the Texas Organizing Project.

•    The National Commission on Voting Rights holds a hearing at 10 a.m. Saturday in Houston at Texas Southern University's law school. The hearing will address aspects of voting in Texas. (agenda)

Today in the Trib

First-Time Candidate Meets Big State, Crowded Ballot: "In his first run for public office, Malachi Boyuls encountered a big state, a crowded ballot and some difficulty with names — both his own and that of the office he sought."

UH Changes in Sugar Land Spark Confusion in Victoria: "The University of Houston System's plan to convert a teaching center in Sugar Land to a branch campus of its flagship was welcomed by locals but prompted questions in Victoria, where leaders fear what the change means for UH-Victoria."

Ratcliffe Talks Term Limits, Not Age, as He Faces Hall: "John Ratcliffe, who is in a Republican primary runoff with U.S. Rep. Ralph Hall, says the incumbent has been in Washington too long. What he's not saying is that Hall, who turns 91 next month, is too old for office."

Galveston Bay Oil Spill Leaves Hundreds of Birds Oiled: "Wildlife officials report hundreds of dead and dying birds covered in oil as cleanup efforts continue in the aftermath of a fuel oil spill late last month in Galveston Bay."


Altercation, mental illness may be behind Fort Hood shooting, Houston Chronicle

Gun-rights advocates push for weapons on military installations, Houston Chronicle

Dallas funeral brings together power brokers of both parties to praise Ray Hutchison, The Dallas Morning News

Serial killer executed with Texas' new drug supply, The Associated Press

State rejects pardon for executed Texan, Austin American-Statesman

Norman: Texas governor candidates Abbott and Davis are in a classic clash on education, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee endorses Ken Paxton for Texas attorney general, The Dallas Morning News

Bush 41 Reunion Looks to Burnish His Legacy, The New York Times

Quote to Note

“Those who support limits see the court right now as the T. rex from ‘Jurassic Park.’ What’s next? ‘Just don’t move. He can’t see us if we don’t move.’”

— Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt on what to expect next from Supreme Court justices on campaign finance

News From Home

Check out our new subject-specific newsletter, Trib+Edu, which deals with all things public education and is a content collaboration between the Tribune and the University of Texas at Austin's College of Education. Click here to sign up for email notification of future issues.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With Mike Collier, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 4/17

•    Slate's Live Political Gabfest in Austin at Scholz Garten, 4/23

•    A Conversation With Rep. Dan Branch, Candidate for Attorney General at the Austin Club, 5/8

•    A Conversation with U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway at Midland College in Midland, 5/13

•    A Conversation With Steve Patterson, UT Men's Athletic Director at the Austin Club, 5/15

•    A Conversation With Sen. Glenn Hegar, Candidate for State Comptroller at the Austin Club, 5/29

•    Save the date for the 2014 Texas Tribune Festival: 9/19-9/21

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Politics Greg Abbott Ken Paxton Rick Perry Wendy Davis