Five Facts the Austin Press Corps is Ignoring About Rick Perry's Secret Border Plan

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The Austin press corps consists of bureau reporters who follow day-to-day Texas politics. Many are on Spring Break vacation; others don't write about border stories, and some are actively ignoring key facts about the single biggest story since the election.

Here are the five key facts the Austin press corps is actively ignoring about Rick Perry's secret border plan:

  • Fact 1: Local Police Officials Say that Perry's Claims About Spillover Violence Are “Ridiculous”

    From a McAllen Monitor story, “Senators call for openness in contingency  plans for violence along U.S.-Mexico border”:

    “To suggest that that threat currently exists for U.S. communities is ridiculous.” — McAllen  Police Chief Victor Rodriguez

  • Fact 2: Rick Perry Has Refused to Reach Out to Local Mayors in the Texas Border Coalition

    As I detailed in my previous post (“Rick Perry's Secret Border Plan Ignores McAllen Police Chief, Texas Border Coalition“), the Texas Border Coalition — a group of over a dozen local Mayors and officials from cities along the border — has been told nothing about Perry's secret border plan. I posted the full letter in my post, and you can also retrieve the Word document by clicking here.

    A highlight:

    We live on the border and have responsibility for our communities and our citizens.  However, at this point we are learning about your plans from the media, along with everyone else.  This makes it impossible for us to coordinate with your office to create the most effective strategy to keep our border communities safe.

  • Fact 3: Both Rick Perry and John Cornyn are Contradicting Themselves About the Border Violence

    From the same McAllen Monitor story, we learn detail about how both Rick Perry and John Cornyn have contradicted themselves about the spillover violence. First, Cornyn:

    Cornyn’s own statements Wednesday straddled both sides of that line.

    “The spillover violence in Texas is real and escalating,” Cornyn and Hutchison wrote in their letter to the president. “Our border patrol agents and local law enforcement are more regularly engaged with gunmen associated with drug cartels.”

    He contradicted himself, however, in a conference call with reporters later in the day in which he said, “As far as the Texas border is concerned, we have not had spillover violence, per se.”

    Then, local Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño poitns out the hypocrisy from Rick Perry:

    Describing the border region as plagued by drug violence has needlessly scared residents of the area while contributing to misperceptions in the rest of the country about the realities in the region, Hidalgo County Sheriff Lupe Treviño said.

    “How can you claim that the crime rate in this whole area has dropped, while at the same time saying that crime is out of control?” he said. “Explain that to me.”

  • Fact 4: Rick Perry is Actively Lying About Border Crime Rates

    I've detailed this in two posts on BOR already: “PolitiFact: Rick Perry's “Pants on Fire” Lie About Border Crime Rates” and “PolitiFact's “Pants on Fire” Fact-Check on Rick Perry's Border Lie Ignored by Reporters.” The short sentence, taken from the Austin American-Statesman's PolitiFact:

    We rate Perry's sweeping statement based on an unreasonable manipulation of crime statistics — the second instance of his administration touting questionable border crime numbers — as Pants on Fire.

  • Fact 5: Rick Perry Has Not Told Anyone in Washington About His Plan, So They Can't Respond to His Request for Help

    From a press release from Bill White, as reported by our own Todd Hill earlier in the day, we learn the following:

    Today Bill White, former Houston Mayor and candidate for governor, pressed U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano for more resources and airborne surveillance of the Texas border.

    “Secretary Napolitano told me this request would receive serious consideration. She also told me she would give a similar response to the Texas Governor if he talked to her about it, which he has not,” said White.

Despite the mountain of facts, the Austin press corps is completely missing the story. Two examples from early in the day (as of 5:35pm):

  1. Texas Tribune: TribBlog: Perry Sends Choppers to the Border
  2. Houston Chronicle: Democrat White gets better response from feds on border security than Gov. Perry?

This is in addition to a handful of other stories I discussed earlier in the day. What is particularly upsetting about the story in the Houston Chronicle is that it gives Mark Miner a full paragraph quote while ignoring all the facts I've outlined above. For journalists in Austin that are part of the Capitol press corps — at least today — they are relying on completely irrelevant quotes from campaign operatives and ignoring the basic facts of what has been raised.

We'll stay on top of the actual facts and news as best we can in the coming days. Please send any tips, newsclips, or other stories to press@burntorangereport.com, or leave a comment below.

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About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

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