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The Brief: April 23, 2014

Gov. Rick Perry continued to work to get Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign even after following through on the threat to veto money for the Public Integrity Unit.

Gov. Rick Perry holds his Texas driver's license and his wallet as he heads to a west Austin early voting site on October 30, 2013.

The Big Conversation

Gov. Rick Perry continued to work to get Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg to resign even after following through on the threat to veto money for the public integrity unit. The Tribune's Terri Langford reported Tuesday night — citing unnamed sources — that Perry through emissaries offered to restore the money if Lehmberg would leave:

The sources said the offer was made to Lehmberg through several back channels: If Lehmberg — a Democrat whose office was in charge of investigating state officeholders — would resign, Perry would restore the two years in state funds, about $7.5 million, that he had vetoed following her April 12, 2013, arrest and subsequent guilty plea.

“It was communicated to me if she stepped out, [Perry] would restore the funding,” said Travis County Judge Samuel T. Biscoe, a Democrat who said he was one of several people made aware of the proposal from Perry’s office. “I was told his office made the representations.”

Perry representatives maintained that the governor was using his constitutional authority in vetoing the funding and that no one on the governor's staff met with Lehmberg. When asked if staff asked others to carry an offer to Lehmberg, a Perry spokesman declined to comment.

Sources told Langford that Lehmberg was told in July about the offer to restore the money for the public integrity unit in exchange for her resignation. A grand jury continues to look at a criminal complaint that Perry's actions around his veto threat amounted to criminal acts, including coercion of a public official and bribery.

The Day Ahead

•    GOP gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott is in Houston at 1 p.m. to lay out the second phase of his "Educating Texans" policy.

•    The House Urban Affairs Committee holds an interim hearing at 10 a.m in the Capitol Extension. (agenda)

•    Join Slate and The Texas Tribune for a live Political Gabfest at Scholz Garten. Doors open at 6:15 p.m., and the show will run from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For information on tickets, click here.

Today in the Trib

Analysis: Perry and the Threat that Boomeranged: "A grand jury is considering whether Gov. Rick Perry broke the law when he threatened to cut state funding for the public integrity unit of the Travis County DA’s office. No matter what happens, its decision will figure into his future as the 2016 presidential race looms."

LCRA Draws Criticism Over Proposed Rate Increases: "The Lower Colorado River Authority is proposing significant rate increases for Central Texas cities and Gulf Coast-area rice farmers, saying its operating costs aren't being covered. But critics say the agency should focus more on cutting costs."

As Rice Farmers Turn to Groundwater, Can They Stay Afloat?: "Facing the third straight year of cutoffs for irrigation water from the Lower Colorado River Authority, some Gulf Coast-area rice farmers are spending millions of dollars drilling wells to pump groundwater instead."

Schofield, Hodge Face Off for Houston-Area House Seat: "Republicans Mike Schofield and Ann Hodge are speeding toward a May 27 runoff for House District 132, the Houston-area seat that state Rep. Bill Callegari is vacating after serving seven terms in the lower chamber."


Lax Oversight Cited as Factor in Deadly Blast at Texas Plant, The New York Times

Did the Supreme Court Just Kill Affirmative Action?, Politico

High court ruling in Michigan dispute unlikely to affect UT race case, Austin American-Statesman

UT regent’s email points to deepening rancor on board, Austin American-Statesman

House panel urged to create state district for low-rated schools, The Dallas Morning News

New Redistricting Lawsuit Would Tilt State Senate In Favor of White Voters, Texas Observer

Republicans set up first ‘max-PACs’ in wake of McCutcheon decision, Washington Post

Eagle Ford could be second to Saudi Arabia in oil production, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

“It’s done in Europe. If it doesn’t blow up, I don’t care where it’s stored.”

— West Mayor Tommy Muska, agreeing with the U.S. Chemical Safety Board recommendation to require the use of less explosive blends of ammonium nitrate

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    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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