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After Rick Perry Veto, Rosemary Lehmberg and Travis County Look to Keep Public Integrity Unit


by: Michael Hurta

Thu Jun 20, 2013 at 11:00 AM CDT


Rick Perry made true on his threat to veto funding for the Public Integritiy Unit if Rosemary Lehmberg did not resign from her office. She, as one would hope from their public officials, refused to be coerced. But now the state's funding for the state's one Public Integrity Unit has disappeared.

So. There goes our ethics. Perry also veteod individual ethics bills from this legislative session. When it comes to ethical government, he just doesn't care.

Thankfully, not quite all is lost. Despite no funding for the next budget for the $3.5 Million unit, Travis County prosecutors might still have their jobs and the local DA's office might still keep our politicians honest.

Read on to find out how.

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State Representative Sylvester Turner was pretty annoyed with our governor after his vetoes. During a long parliamentary inquiry, he said that the Governor has some explaining to do. Of course, he won't explain. So, Turner filed House Concurrent Resolution 6 that would go somewhere the Texas Legislature has never gone before -- override a gubernatorial veto during a special session.

That doesn't seem likely to pass, however.

District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg proposed another way: for the county to fill the gap. And at the Travis County Commissioner Court meeting, County Judge Sam Biscoe stated what's obvious to many: "the future of the Public Integrity Unit depends on Travis County."

The Commissioner Court took no action this week, but Biscoe indicated that an official proposal be made in the coming weeks. The court will likely be pressured from locals to fund the Public Integrity Unit that's valued by many Travis County Democrats, but they will probably be hesitant to set a precedent that the state not need make this expenditure on a regular basis. Further, it will be curious to see how far this court is willing to go, as commissioners have been reluctant to enhance ethics regulations for themselves.

There are 45 Travis County employees in the Public Integrity Unit working on over 400 cases. The public trust is in their hands, and it is in Travis County's hands to support their work.  



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Texans deserves better than either Rick Perry or Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg should resign immediately and make way for a Republican temp to be the Travis County DA through 2014. Too bad, so sad that Lehmberg was so reckless. The Texas Democratic Party should take credit for Lehmberg's removal and find Republicans who will join them in pursuing legal action against Perry. Surely there are some Republicans who know that wiping out the Public Integrity Unit is outrageous. Lehmberg's departure could then be used to contrast Democratic integrity with the ongoing misconduct of Republicans such as Perry, Sharon Keller, and Tom DeLay.

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