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The Brief: Beto O'Rourke explains exceptions on consultants

After U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke declared that his campaign would not hire consultants when he launched his U.S. Senate bid, a recently filed campaign finance report showed he used two consulting firms leading up to his campaign's kickoff.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke announced his bid to run for U.S. Senate while speaking to supporters in El Paso on March 31, 2017. 

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Tribune today

• A three-judge panel will start mulling big redistricting questions in San Antonio on Thursday.

• U.S. Supreme Court justices wrestled with the possibility of siding with a Texas death row inmate who argues his case should have another chance because of an error his lawyer made. 

• The Texas House tentatively approved a bill that would allow lottery winners of $1 million or more to remain anonymous. 

• Representatives from Uber and Lyft say an amendment to a statewide ride-sharing bill that defines "sex" as "the physical condition of being male or female" is disappointing and unnecessary. 

• The "bathroom bill" hearing went past this 7-year-old's bedtime. Here's what she wanted to say

• Conservative activists in Texas are pushing back against Republican leaders over fast-tracking the so-called "Buffett Bill." 

What you need to know

When he launched his bid in March, U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke declared that his campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz would not hire consultants. But a recently filed campaign finance report showed that the El Paso Democrat used two consulting firms leading up to his campaign's kickoff. Here's what changed: 

• O'Rourke reported spending around $30,000 on consulting firms for the first quarter of 2017. A little more than $6,000 was spent on fundraising services from A.J. Goodman Consulting Corporation, and around another $24,000 was spent on Revolution Messaging — the same digital company that aided U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in 2016.  

He's not using pollsters, O'Rourke said, but he will use outside help on "technical" campaign aspects. O'Rourke said his campaign will not hire consultants or pollsters to test or dictate his messages, but he added that things such as managing his campaign's email platform could use outside help.

• What O'Rourke says: "I don't have consultants who tell me what to say or sharpen my message," O'Rourke told the Tribune on Friday in a phone interview. And speaking to supporters in Garland on Saturday, O'Rourke said, "I don't have a pollster. I don't have a consultant who packages the message, tells me what to say, says, 'This is what Texas believes,' or 'You've got to tack to the middle to get to them over here.'"

What we're reading

Links below lead to outside websites; we've noted paywall content with $.

Hillary Clinton as the straw of hope for Texas Democrats, Texas Monthly 

In trade war with Mexico, Texas would lose the mostTexas Observer 

White House 'confident' of averting shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall, The Washington Post ($)

Texas officials sue FDA for access to 1,000 vials of execution drug, The Dallas Morning News ($)

Senate votes to abolish state refugee agency, The Houston Chronicle ($)

For your calendar

On May 2: Join us in Austin for our final "On The Record" event of the session – a happy hour event series breaking down how you can make your voice heard at the Texas Legislature.

On May 10: Join us for coffee and a conversation with author and political strategist Matthew Dowd at The Austin Club.

Quote to note

"I am seven years old, and I am transgender. I love my school and my friends, and they love me, too. I don’t want to be scared to go to the bathroom or anywhere public. And I never ever want to use the boys' bathroom. It would be gross and weird. Please keep me safe."

— Libby Gonzales, a transgender girl in Texas, testifying against the "bathroom bill"

The Brief is written and compiled by your morning news baristas, Bobby Blanchard and Cassi Pollock. If you have feedback or questions, please email

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