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The Brief: Sept. 14, 2015

Following a newspaper investigation of Land Commissioner George P. Bush's work calendar, his office pushed back on a couple of fronts, releasing online a sharply worded letter to the editor and granting an interview to the Tribune.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush delivered a speech Wednesday marking his first 100 days in office. His remarks were broadcast live via the Periscope app.

The Big Conversation

Following the Houston Chronicle's investigation of Land Commissioner George P. Bush's work calendar, his office pushed back on a couple of fronts, releasing online a sharply worded letter to the editor and granting an interview to the Tribune's Patrick Svitek.

The big conclusion in the Chronicle's investigation was that Bush has spent a significant amount of time this summer out of the office. Much of his travel out of state was in support of his father's presidential campaign and the question raised by the story is whether the statewide official is being distracted from his official duties by his time on the campaign trail.

Cue the pushback from the General Land Office, which in a letter to the editor disputed reporter Brian Rosenthal's math in calculating the percentage of days off taken by Bush.

Speaking with Svitek on Sunday, Bush said, "The evidence will strongly show that I've put my heart and soul into this position." 

Svitek summarizes the conflict thusly:

The dustup over the Chronicle report has resurfaced a question that has dogged Bush since he began running for office: whether the rising star in GOP circles can fully focus on the job amid rampant speculation about his political future. Asked if he felt additional pressure to avoid that perception, Bush replied: "In a word, yes. I knew that the expectations were going to be heightened coming in, and I tried to show a strong work ethic during my campaign," when he visited over 200 counties.

Trib Must-Reads

Lawmaker Scrutiny Follows Bland, Deputy Deaths, by Johnathan Silver – in the coming days, the deaths of Sandra Bland and Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth will continue to jolt statewide conversations about how the Texas criminal justice system deals with — or fails to deal with — mental health issues.

Carson Quietly Builds Support in Texas, by Patrick Svitek – Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson is quietly building support for his presidential campaign in Texas, where his supporters believe his anti-establishment appeal makes him a perfect fit for the GOP primary electorate.

Warren to Cruz on Planned Parenthood Fight: Bring it On, by Patrick Svitek – During a speech in Austin on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., taunted her Texas Republican colleague Ted Cruz over his potential role in another federal government shutdown.

Texas Could See Increase in Syrian Refugees, by Alexa Ura – As part of the massive exodus of refugees from the Middle East, Texas could soon become home to hundreds of Syrian refugees fleeing their country. The United States has announced it will take in 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year.

New Protocol Leads to Reviews of "Mixed DNA" Evidence, by Terri Langford – A new standard, used by crime labs in Texas and nationwide when analyzing multiple sets of DNA taken from evidence, has prompted questions and a review of court cases dating back to 1999.

It's Now Open Season on Perry's Donors, by Abby Livingston and Patrick Svitek – Other presidential campaigns have begun reaching out to financial and political loyalists to Rick Perry after the former governor suspended his 2016 campaign on Friday.

Analysis: A New, Dimmer Era For Rick Perry, by Jay Root – Any longtime Perry watcher worth his salt knows the handsome fly boy from Paint Creek, Texas will do everything in his power to stay relevant in state and national politics, even after a second embarrassing withdrawal from presidential politics.

Rick Perry Suspends Presidential Campaign, by Aman Batheja, Patrick Svitek and Abby Livingston – Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday suspended his bid for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, facing dwindling resources, bare bones staff and a staggeringly low position in the polls. 

Texas Democrats Largely Back Obama on Iran Deal, by Abby Livingston – When the time came Friday to take a vote related to President Obama's controversial nuclear deal with Iran, Texas Democrats in the U.S. House largely showed their support for the agreement.  

Petroleum Industry Agrees to Dismiss Denton Lawsuit, by Jordan Rudner – Now that Denton has repealed its ban on hydraulic fracturing and its ban on gas drilling has expired, lawyers for the oil and gas industry have agreed to drop their lawsuit against the city.

The Day Ahead

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will be joined by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald in Harlingen for a 10 a.m. roundtable discussion about healthcare expansion for veterans in the Rio Grande Valley.

•    GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump holds a 6 p.m. rally at the 20,000-seat American Airlines Center in Dallas.

•    A celebration for the 41st birthdays of HUD Secretary Julián and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is set to happen in San Antonio. The festivities are scheduled to start at 6 p.m.


Analysis: With Trump taking ‘every bit of oxygen,’ Perry’s experience ignored, The Dallas Morning News

Donald Trump promises to rally, rile at American Airlines Center event, The Dallas Morning News

About 2,500 same-sex marriage licenses issued in Texas, The Associated Press

Texas officials under scrutiny for biker shootout case, The Associated Press

Ted Cruz will take center stage in fight to defund Planned Parenthood, Austin American-Statesman

Greater Houston resettles more refugees than any other American city, Houston Chronicle 

America's city rankings set for Texas-sized shake up; Houston to edge past Chicago, Reuters

Quote to Note

“Come on, bro, this is a tailgate.”

— Dionne Harden, an Iowa State fan at Saturday's Iowa State vs. Iowa game, when GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio interrupted his game of bean bag

Today in TribTalk

Texans shouldn't need a license to earn a living, by Josiah Neeley – Many Texans are locked out of careers because they cannot afford to give up the time and money it takes to get licensed.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Ticket: A Live Recording and GOP Primary Debate Watch Party on Sept. 16 in Austin

•    A Conversation with UT-Austin President Gregory Fenves on Sept. 21 in Austin

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

•    A Conversation on The Environment: The Next Five Years on Sept. 28 in Corpus Christi

•    A Conversation on God & Governing on Oct. 7 in Austin

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

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