"DPS Investigating State Rep. Dawnna Dukes' "Concerns"" was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.
State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has asked the Texas Department of Public Safety for an investigation, the agency confirmed late Friday. Exactly what it will focus on is not clear.
"DPS is conducting an inquiry into some concerns raised by Rep. Dukes," DPS spokesman Tom Vinger wrote in an email to The Texas Tribune. Vinger declined to say what those "concerns" entailed.
"We have no additional information to provide at this time," Vinger said.
A source with knowledge of the DPS investigation told the Tribune the agency has contacted at least one former Dukes staffer.
DPS' action comes three weeks after the Tribune reported the State Auditor's Office was investigating whether Dukes had her taxpayer-funded staff perform non-legislative work, primarily on the African American Community Heritage Festival, a pet project the lawmaker created 17 years ago. An email sent by Dukes in January to her staff told them to put the festival at the top of their to-do list.
"Festival is all hands on priority. I don't want any delays or fall throughs," Dukes wrote in a Jan. 12 email to her Capitol staff that was obtained by The Texas Tribune. "If you don't understand something or directive, ASAP. Timeliness is imperative to a successful event. Everyone must step up and be assertive."
Dukes did not return the Tribune's calls for comment on why she called for the DPS investigation.
The annual Heritage Festival, which will be held on Saturday, raises scholarship money for Huston-Tillotson University in Austin. The festival is organized by long-time friend and former Dukes staffer, Pamela Parker.
Mike French, Dukes' former chief of staff who raised questions about the staff time devoted to the Heritage Festival told the Tribune he's not worried about this new inquiry by DPS.
"If she wants to do that, it's fine by us," said Mike French. "The only one who has anything to hide is Dukes."