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The Brief: July 3, 2015

Attorney General Ken Paxton's recent actions opposing same-sex marriage were just another example of how he's become a hero among social conservatives who helped elect him.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaking at the Texas Public Policy Foundation's opening of its new building on April 21, 2015.

The Big Conversation

Attorney General Ken Paxton's name has been in the headlines often lately, with the most recent ones detailing potential felony fraud charges against him.

But it was the headlines earlier this week — in which he opposed the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling — that have made him a hero among social conservatives who helped elect him. Those headlines came after a Sunday written opinion from him saying clerks could opt out of issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

The Tribune's Morgan Smith has more on how social conservatives see Paxton — and how some think he's been more helpful to their cause than Gov. Greg Abbott:

“Texas often tries to bill itself as the most conservative state in the union, which isn’t very often the case actually. We have a reputation that we don’t live up to. But I think that Ken Paxton is living up to it,” said Julie McCarty, president of the North East Tarrant County Tea Party, which wields considerable influence in Republican primaries. “I haven’t heard anything from our governor, which is not surprising, but again disappointing.”

... Steve Hotze, a Houston doctor who operates the powerful Conservative Republicans of Texas political action committee, [said] Paxton’s office was “very instrumental” in pushing lawmakers to pass legislation affirming religious officials’ rights to refuse to perform same-sex marriages known as the Pastor Protection Act. ...

“Most people don’t understand but Ken Paxton does understand the direction of this movement and he is speaking out,” he said. “Abbott has been AWOL on the issue.”

And on Thursday, Paxton's team pushed back against the special prosecutors seeking felony fraud charges against him, calling the investigation a "political hit-job." The Tribune's Patrick Svitek outlines the back-and-forth that ensued.

Trib Must-Reads

Supporters: Bullion Depository Could Fuel a Texas Gold Rush, by Aman Batheja — As Texas develops the nation's first state-run bullion depository, supporters predict the state could become a national destination for investors in gold, silver and other precious metals.

State: Abortion Docs Still Need Admitting Privileges, by Sophia Bollag and Alexa Ura — Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling allowing some Texas abortion clinics to remain open, the Texas Department of State Health Services said on Thursday that doctors performing abortions must still obtain admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

Gay Couple to Sue Hood County Clerk Over Marriage License, by Alexa Ura — Attorneys for a same-sex couple are preparing to sue Hood County Clerk Katie Lang after the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license.

United Nations to Decide Alamo Designation, by Liz Crampton — After nine years of trying, boosters of the San Antonio Missions — including the Alamo — will find out early Sunday morning if the historic Texas shrines will join a list of other internationally recognized landmarks such as the Taj Mahal and the Pyramids of Giza.

Analysis: For Paxton, a Bumpy Start on the Big Stage, by Ross Ramsey — Most Texans don't know who Ken Paxton is, and a pending investigation and a waiting grand jury could leave them with a bad first impression of the state's new attorney general.

Perry Emerges as a Leading Anti-Trump Voice in GOP, by Patrick Svitek — Former Gov. Rick Perry is positioning himself as one of his party's leading voices against Donald Trump, the divisive billionaire whose candidacy is already causing the GOP headaches.

Paxton: Potential Indictment "Politically Motivated," by Patrick Svitek — In a statement, Attorney General Ken Paxton says the prosecutors pursuing a felony fraud indictment against him are inexperienced and politically motivated.

Cecil Bell Could Announce Speaker Bid on Monday, by Ally Mutnick — State Rep. Cecil Bell Jr., R-Magnolia, has a “major announcement” to make on Monday — and while he’s mum on the details, the Southeast Texas lawmaker didn’t deny that it would include a bid for speaker of the Texas House.

Perry: It's GOP's Duty to Reach Out to Black Voters, by Abby Livingston — Former Gov. Rick Perry took his case for the GOP presidential nomination to the nation’s capital Thursday, arguing that it is the Republican Party’s moral and historical duty to court black voters.

Under BP Deal, Another $788 Million Will Flow to Texas, by Jim Malewitz — Texas is set to receive another $788 million stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill under a settlement between BP, the federal government and five Gulf Coast states. 

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will speak at the 35th annual SummerFest Independence Day Celebration on Saturday in San Marcos.


Abbott lets scores of bills, the most in decades, become law without his signature, The Dallas Morning News

Ted Cruz signs books in Arlington, talks of breaking ‘Washington cartel,' Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Julián Castro to pay fine for minor campaign-finance violations, San Antonio Express-News

Marriage equality and religious freedom collide in Granbury, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

LGBT children's books debated at Hood County library, WFAA

Same-sex marriages will pump nearly $182 million into Texas' economy, The Dallas Morning News

Ted Cruz to Glenn Beck: No Such Thing as a ‘Nice’ Reporter, Mediaite

Cisneros made the mayor’s office a stepping stone to national leadership, San Antonio Express-News

UT President Fenves keeps steady in rapid-fire first month on the job, Austin American-Statesman

Flood victims target Sen. Cruz for climate change views, San Antonio Express-News

Industry strives to fill gap for health care educators, Houston Chronicle

UNT and TCU plan to build medical school together, sources say, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

“For too long, we Republicans have been content to lose the black vote because we found we didn’t need it to win. But when we gave up trying to win the support of African-Americans, we lost our moral legitimacy as the party of Lincoln.”

— Former Gov. Rick Perry speaking Thursday at the National Press Club in a speech called “Economic Opportunity for All Americans"

Today in TribTalk

It's time to divorce marriage from government, by David Simpson — With religious liberty and freedom of conscience under assault, Gov. Greg Abbott must call a special session to end government marriage licensing. Only then will we be free from the tyrannical grip of politically correct insanity.

The politics of choosing the wrong side of history, by Jim Henson and Joshua Blank — In spite of the acknowledged direction of history, the vanguard of the Texas GOP knows where its voters are right now — and intends to remain right there with them.

News From Home

•    There are currently 261 inmates living on death row in Texas, the state with the most active execution chamber by far. Use this interactive to search through these men and women by the length of their stay, race, age and sex.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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