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Former RPT Chief Munisteri Draws New Convention Role

Also, Gov. Greg Abbott brushes off White House speculation after announcement of his new book. Abbott and Texas Sen. John Cornyn both submit briefs against Obama's immigration orders.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul speaks to the press about his decision bring on Steve Munisteri, chairman of the Republican Party of Tex…

The Republican National Committee has hired Steve Munisteri, the former chairman of the Texas GOP, to help with the delegate process as its convention nears.

Munisteri, who had been a senior adviser to former Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, is joining the RNC's Grassroots Assistance Project, a new effort to "welcome, educate, and engage delegates" ahead of the convention in July in Cleveland. Another GOP operative who had advised Paul, Chris LaCivita, is helping with the project, the RNC said Thursday. 

Their hires comes as the GOP field increasingly eyes a contested convention as a way of settling whom their nominee will be.

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Gov. Greg Abbott is brushing off the idea that his forthcoming book is a sign of interest in higher office.

"The purpose of this book is not to run for president," Abbott said in an interview Tuesday morning on San Antonio radio. "The purpose of this book is to get this country back on track and explain how we can do it."

It was announced Monday that Abbott plans to release a book next month centering on his life story and his push for a convention of states. Titled “Broken But Unbowed,” the book is scheduled to come out May 17.

Reminded by host Trey Ware that the last two governors who wrote books had presidential ambitions, Abbott tamped down the speculation.

"Think about the the timing of this book,” Abbott told Ware. "It’s not on the cusp of a potential new election. I’m not even up for re-election for a couple of years."

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In case you missed it: Texas Republicans still loathe President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration.

Two weeks before the United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in United States v. Texas, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn filed separate amicus briefs urging the high court to keep the program on hold.

The plan, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA, would shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants in the country from deportation proceedings and allow them to apply for a three-year work permit.

It was announced in November 2014 and the next month Texas led the effort to stop it. The state has been successful as lower courts have already ruled to halt the policy three separate times.

A victory for Obama this year at the Supreme Court could make immigrants eligible to apply for the program as early as this summer. But Abbott and Cornyn are urging the eight justices to stop what they call "executive amnesty."

"The President was correct when he recognized that only Congress can lawfully effectuate DAPA. As he said in October 2010, ‘I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself,’" Abbott wrote.

Added Cornyn:  “What is at stake in this matter is nothing less than an effort to supplant Congress’s constitutional power to ‘establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.’  Such an action stands in stark contravention to federal law and to the constitutional principle of the separation of powers."

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Four tech juggernauts are backing President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, lining up against Texas and other states in their high-profile legal challenge of the regulations.

Attorneys for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft — companies that each have a Texas footprint — backed the fight against climate change in a filing Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. 

The companies’ amicus brief argued that requiring states to speed their ongoing shift away from high-pollution coal and toward renewables would benefit the environment and public health, and would drastically increase electricity prices as opponents fear.

“Delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment,” the brief said. “It also reflects their firsthand experience that developing and using renewable electricity generation is affordable, reliable, and consistent with sound business practices.”

As operators of giant, energy-sucking manufacturing facilities and data centers, the companies are heavily invested in energy issues and would have much to lose if prices skyrocketed, the brief pointed out.

Each company has a presence in Texas, which has joined West Virginia in leading the 27 states suing over the rules.

Amazon, for instance, has multiple facilities in North Texas and a corporate office in Austin. Microsoft has two data centers in Bexar County and is building a third.  Google has a significant presence in Austin, which it is planning to grow. Apple also has a major Austin presence.  Each of the companies has tapped renewable sources — largely wind power — to lower or offset their carbon emissions.

The Clean Power Plan would require Texas to cut an average of 51 million tons of emissions each year, about 21 percent from 2012 levels. The rules are temporarily on hold as the litigation unfolds. The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the rule in February, but the subsequent death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia has cast doubt on how the justices will ultimately rule.

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