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The Brief: Aug. 5, 2015

A day after his indictment was made public, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told his supporters he expects he'll be "fully vindicated."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton testifies on July 29, 2015, before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on an investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices.

The Big Conversation

A day after his indictment was made public, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told his supporters he expects he'll be "fully vindicated."

Paxton, who faces felony fraud charges, wrote his supporters an email yesterday saying he's "looking forward to the opportunity" to lay out his side of the story in court, reports the Tribune's Matthew Watkins:

"While yesterday's news coverage may have come as a surprise to many of you, I can assure you that it did not catch us off guard," Paxton wrote. "Our silence was purposeful and driven by respect for the law as the information was under judicial seal until noon yesterday." ...

Paxton said his focus will remain on his job. As attorney general, Paxton serves as the state's top lawyer and law enforcement official. 

"I refuse to be distracted or deterred from my commitment to the people of Texas to fight for the Rule of Law," he wrote. "I assure you that my focus on serving Texas as Attorney General continues with greater resolve than ever before. To that end, I will of course direct all case-related questions to my legal counsel."

Also in the Tribune, Liz Crampton and Ally Mutnick explain what would happen if Paxton is actually convicted, and how there's no "clear-cut answer in either the Texas Constitution or state law" outlining the process.

Paxton's staff, meanwhile, got an email from Paxton's top deputy saying the office will remain "focused on running the best Attorney General's Office in the nation," according to the Houston Chronicle

The Associated Press has a story on how Paxton rode "a wave of conservative insurgency to become Texas’ top law enforcement officer despite questions about his financial dealings," noting a previous admission that he had violated state securities laws. 

And the Austin American-Statesman talks to lawyers about what the prosecutors' case hinges on and how their allegations "could be difficult to prove." 

Trib Must-Reads

New Law Will Help More Texans Go Solar, by Jim Malewitz and Jeremy Lin — A loophole in state law allowed some developers to block solar installations on homes in new neighborhoods. Now it's been plugged. This story is part of our 31 Days, 31 Ways series.

Dallas County Drawn Into Birth Certificate Debate, by Julián Aguilar — After aligning itself with state policy, Dallas County may now be drawn into the legal fray over the state's rules for issuing birth certificates to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

Otto Explains Maritime Museum Money Mixup, by Sophia Bollag — The mystery of a seemingly abandoned nautical appropriation in the state budget became clearer Tuesday, with a key legislator saying the $200,000 intended for a non-existent maritime museum got tangled in a miscommunication.

Perry Doesn't Make Cut for First GOP Presidential Debate, by Patrick Svitek — Former Gov. Rick Perry has failed to qualify for the first Republican presidential debate. Perry was not among those selected Tuesday by Fox News to share the stage Thursday night in Cleveland.

Bland's Mother Sues DPS, Waller County, by Sophia Bollag — Alleging that Sandra Bland's "rights and privileges as a citizen of the United States" were violated, Bland’s mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waller County and several law enforcement officers.

Hidden Video Shows Houston Planned Parenthood Clinic, by Edgar Walters — An anti-abortion group released an undercover video Tuesday showing a Planned Parenthood executive at a Houston clinic discussing how the group recoups costs for providing organs from aborted fetuses for medical research.

Pro-Cruz Super PAC Ramps Up With 7-Figure Media Blitz, by Patrick Svitek — A super PAC backing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz for president is starting to spend the millions of dollars it has raked in.


Mugshot towel could have impacted Paxton's 'right to fair trial,' judge says, Houston Chronicle

John Kasich Is In, Rick Perry Is Out in First Republican Debate, The New York Times

To have and have not: Cruz in, Perry out of prime-time debate, The Dallas Morning News

Gov. Abbott heading to Atlanta, San Antonio Express-News

Rick Perry Toughens Up on Banks as Wall Street Cash to His Campaign Dries Up, National Journal

Ted Cruz taps Gortz Haus owners as ‘religious liberty ambassadors,’ Des Moines Register

Texas' cuts to Medicaid could leave poor without therapy, The Dallas Morning News

Oil industry wants candidates to state their cases on energy, Houston Chronicle

The Oil Crash Has Caused a $1.3 Trillion Wipeout, Bloomberg

Republican Hurd touts his expertise to business leaders, San Antonio Express-News

Council poised to affirm HERO, placing it on November ballot, Houston Chronicle

Dallas police chief to kids: ‘Talk to us’ after McKinney pool party, Sandra Bland, The Dallas Morning News

Zoning commission rejects Tesla plan, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

"We're assuming we're on the debate stage, as opposed to the clown stage. We'll be with a bunch of very thoughtful people, like Carly Fiorina, Gov. George Pataki and Gov. Bobby Jindal."

Jeff Miller, the campaign manager for Rick Perry, on how the main GOP debate could be overshadowed by Donald Trump. Perry, who will be excluded from that debate, will instead be part of a televised forum with other Republicans who didn't make the cut.

News From Home

•      In this week's edition of the Trib+Health newsletter: Health care acquisitions are on the rise, the Sandra Bland case highlights gaps in training to handle suicidal inmates and an interview with Bethanie Van Horne of UTHealth's Children's Learning Institute.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•      The Texas Tribune's Trivia Night on Aug. 30 in Austin 

•      A Conversation with Austin Mayor Steve Adler and San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor on Sept. 4 in Austin

•      A Conversation on The Road from Hurricane Rita on Sept. 22 in Beaumont

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

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