Vol 32, Issue 32 Print Issue

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

The undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue donation were manipulated, according to an analysis commissioned by Planned Parenthood that was released on Thursday. Planned Parenthood sent the analysis to congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating the organization in an effort to render the recordings inadmissible in an official inquiry.

Hours before the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule was supposed to take effect, a federal judge in North Dakota blocked it. The judge's action was a victory for 13 states that sued the Environmental Protection Agency over the rule, which the federal government says is meant to better protect public waterways from pollution. Texas was not among those 13 states, but it did file its own lawsuit along with Louisiana and Mississippi challenging the rule.

A state district judge on Thursday threw out a challenge filed by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, clearing the way for the University of Texas at Austin to move the statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

Attorney General Ken Paxton made his first courtroom appearance as a criminal defendant on Thursday. In addition to the expected not guilty plea, Paxton's lead lawyer quit for unspecified reasons and the attorney general insisted no cameras be allowed at his trial.

Saying that Chris Kyle's "remarkable, selfless service may be unrivaled in the annals of our proud history," Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday posthumously awarded the late Navy SEAL sniper the Texas Legislative Medal of Honor, the state's highest military honor.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Wednesday that he will not authorize more than $200 million in funds approved by the Legislature but vetoed by Abbott as he waits for the attorney general to settle the issue.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission will proceed with $100 million in cuts made by lawmakers to a therapy program for poor and disabled children, a spokesman said Wednesday afternoon.

A former high-ranking official with the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas was found not guilty Tuesday by a 12-member jury in Austin. He had been accused of deceiving colleagues in order to secure an $11 million grant for a biotechnology firm.

In a rebuff to state lawmakers, the Texas Racing Commission on Tuesday declined to outlaw historical racing in the state. The action puts at risk funding for the agency, which oversees the racing industry in the state.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who initially planned to stay away from endorsements in open Republican Senate primaries, said Tuesday he is backing state Rep. Bryan Hughes of Mineola in the Republican primary race to replace state Sen. Kevin Eltife of Tyler.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2013-14. Planned Parenthood was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune in 2011. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Political People and their Moves

Gov. Greg Abbott has tapped former Texas Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright to lead the Texas Board of Criminal Justice. Abbott also appointed Tom G. Fordyce and Derrelynn Perryman to the board. All three were named to terms to expire Feb. 1, 2021.

Abbott made three judicial appointments this week. They are :

•    Chad Bridges of Sugar Land was named judge for the 240th Judicial District Court in Fort Bend County. His term runs until the next general election. 
•    Susan Rankin of Dallas was named judge for the 254th Judicial District Court in Dallas County for a term to expire at the next general election. 
•    David Perwin of Richmond was named judge for the 505th Judicial District Court in Fort Bend County. His term runs until the next general election. This appointment will be effective Sept. 1.

Abbott appointed state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, to the Southwestern States Water Commission for terms to expire in 2019 and 2017, respectively.

The Republican Party of Texas has selected Kyle Whatley to succeed Beth Cubriel as the party’s executive director. Whatley, a Houston native, worked most recently for Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and has prior stints working for Arlene Wohlgemuth and Quico Canseco.

The Ted Cruz campaign announced on Tuesday that he has the backing of Ron Robinsonthe leader of conservative youth group Young America’s Foundation. Robinson also is a founder of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and Citizens United.

State Sen. Brian Birdwell of Granbury will serve as one of three co-chairs of "Vets for Ted," Cruz's campaign announced Wednesday. The other co-chairs are former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire and U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Oklahoma.

State Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, has endorsed Cruz for president. Hall joins his colleagues Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, and Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, in backing Cruz.

Burton, meanwhile, announced on Wednesday that she has endorsed David Simpson in his bid to win the open Senate seat being vacated by Tyler Republican Kevin Eltife.

The Houston Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 341 announced its support for Mary Ann Perez who is running to regain the HD-144 seat that she represented in 2013.

Deaths: Dr. James "Red" Duke Jr., 86, of natural causes in Houston. Duke's surgical career spanned from attending to Gov. John Connally on the day of the John F. Kennedy assassination to founding Houston's helicopter ambulance system to his syndicated television appearances that made him a nationally recognized figure.