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The Brief: April 17, 2014

The grand jury investigation into Rick Perry's veto of funding for the Public Integrity Unit has drawn new national attention to the outgoing Texas governor who is weighing a return to the presidential sweepstakes.

Texas Governor Rick Perry attends groundbreaking ceremony for Teletón USA CRIT children's rehabilitation center in San Antonio, Texas, on August 6th, 2013.

The Big Conversation

The grand jury investigation into Rick Perry's veto of funding for the Public Integrity Unit has now drawn coverage from The New York Times, bringing some unwelcome national attention to the outgoing Texas governor who is weighing a return to the presidential sweepstakes.

"Mr. Perry," wrote the Times' Manny Fernandez, "has gone to great lengths to show he is not the same man he was during his disastrous 2012 presidential bid, including wearing designer eyeglasses to enhance his statesmanlike appearance. But in recent days, Mr. Perry’s final months in office have been interrupted by a political and legal problem at home, one that could haunt him on the campaign trail should he run for president and that his Democratic critics are using to accuse him of punishing his political enemies."

Meanwhile, follow-up coverage of Perry's hiring of prominent criminal defense attorney David Botsford has revealed that taxpayers will likely pick up the tab. "Botsford will be paid $450 an hour to be Perry’s defense lawyer — money that will come from the state’s budget — 'because this inquiry concerns actions by the governor while acting in his official capacity,'" reported Tony Plohetski of the Austin American-Statesman. The news that Botsford's bill would be paid for with general revenue was first reported by Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News earlier this week.

The Day Ahead

•    The Democratic candidate for state comptroller, Mike Collier, drops by for a TribLive conversation at the Austin Club. We will livestream the event beginning at 8 a.m.

•    Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst addresses the 21st Annual Luncheon and Business Expo for the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at noon at the Hilton Americas hotel.

•    The Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee holds an interim hearing at 10 a.m. at the University of Houston to look at the topic of bond debt. (agenda)

Today in the Trib

At Debate, Patrick's Immigration Tone Seems to Soften: "During a debate on immigration this week, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Dan Patrick appeared to move away from divisive immigration rhetoric that has drawn fire in the past."

DPS Suspends Use of New Handgun Over "Concerns": "The Texas Department of Public Safety has stopped using its newest service firearm after state trooper recruits who were the first to use new Smith & Wesson M&P 9 mm handguns reported 'concerns' about the weapon."

Transparency Committee Proceeds Cautiously as Emotions Rise: "Following the release of a special counsel's report laying out possible grounds for University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall's impeachment, a legislative committee is proceeding cautiously as it determines its next steps."

PAC to Shut Down After Name Draws Furor: "Houston consultant Allen Blakemore on Wednesday evening confirmed that his firm’s bookkeeper created a political committee called Boats 'N Hoes PAC. Blakemore said the committee will be immediately dissolved."

Judge Denies Relief for El Paso Abortion Clinic: "A federal judge has denied an El Paso abortion clinic temporary relief from a new state requirement that physicians who provide abortions obtain hospital admitting privileges."


After nearly silent, Dewhurst goes on the offensive against Patrick, Houston Chronicle

Hall, Ratcliffe in tight race for donors, The Dallas Morning News

Jeb Bush’s wife, family issues key to 2016, Politico

Cruz endorses OK Senate candidate as he walks primary tightrope, The Dallas Morning News

Ted Cruz fundraising drops post-shutdown, Politico

Unusual campaign loans dog Canseco in tough U.S. House race, Houston Chronicle

Garcia: Castro's boldness made Patrick cautious, San Antonio Express-News

Faced with conservative opposition, lottery commission delays bingo vote, Austin American-Statesman

Quote to Note

"They believe elections are being done properly. They believe redistricting is being done properly. They don’t have the same concerns they did eight or nine years ago when I voted for it."

— U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Irving, framing his decision not to back reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act as voting his district

Trib Events for the Calendar

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

•    A Panel Discussion on Keeping the Lights on in Texas at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, 4/29

•    The Texas Tribune Festival On the Road presents a one-day symposium on STEM Education at UT-Dallas, 5/5

•    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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Health care Politics Dan Patrick David Dewhurst Julián Castro Kenny E. Marchant Rick Perry Ted Cruz