Debate Primer: Wendy Davis Likely To Hit Greg Abbott On His Role In Texas Enterprise Fund Scandal, Demand He Return Over $1 Million In Campaign Contributions

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The Greg Abbott campaign thought they were going to be on the attack with James O’keefe’s latest video “exposing” Battleground Texas for working to register voters, but it turns out karma had other plans with an actual very serious scandal hitting the candidate himself days before the final gubernatorial debate.

Over the past week it has been revealed that Greg Abbott helped Gov. Rick Perry hide the fact that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were being handed out improperly and in some cases — to their campaign contributors.  

Now, Sen. Wendy Davis, whose legislation sparked the audit that exposed the indiscretion in the first place, is calling for an investigation into Abbott’s role. In the meantime, she is also demanding Abbott give back the $1.4 million in campaign funds that came from recipients of TEF monies.

On Monday she held a press conference to outline her requests and said,

    “Greg Abbott used the power of his office to orchestrate a cover up of the transfer of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds to companies who never even completed an application for the funds – blocking the release of applications he knew didn’t exist.”

The Texas media has been on this story like nothing since Gov. Perry was indicted on two felony counts, and though it isn’t directly election related, this latest scandal will give a boost to Wendy’s campaign theme which has sought to call out Abbott for consistently siding against individual Texas taxpayers in favor of corporate ones.

Paul Burka of the Texas Monthly, a perennial voice in Texas politics, has come out of his recent digital slumber to slam Abbott and Perry for what he implied should be “an impeachable offense.” He even compared it to the Sharpstown scandal that led to a sea change in the Legislature as well as the offices of Governor and Lt. Governor.

“Remember, these are state tax dollars that Perry and Abbott are playing fast and loose with, and they were getting goodies from campaign contributors. Abbott not incidentally, has received $1.4 million in contributions.” – Paul Burka, Texas Monthly

The Lone Star Project has sent Public Information Act requests to Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office requesting all communications between his office and the office of Governor regarding the Texas Enterprise Fund, it’s recipients and the recently concluded audit that exposed the improprieties. They have also fully documented step by step the unfolding scandal.

The Texas Tribune pointed out the cognitive dissonance between the GOP’s talking points on taxes and the way they have managed taxpayer funds. They linked the latest breaking news on TEF to a laundry list of wasteful giveaways and inferred that the more information that comes to light the more criticism of Perry and Abbott will become increasingly bipartisan.

    “State Republican leaders have portrayed Texas as a beacon of budget-slashing conservatism, but their loose oversight over hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development funds, cancer research grants and plain old tax money have emerged as a flashpoint in this year’s elections and have given fuel to critics on both the left and the right.”

The Tribune also reported the frustrations felt by JoAnn Fleming, the legislature’s TEA Party Caucus advisory committee chairperson. “For us to have special interests floating through our Capitol and just being able to do a knock-knock, wink-wink and a handshake, that’ just inappropriate. It’s disgusting, really,” she said.

The Greg Abbott campaign likely didn’t see themselves getting hit from all sides going into the final gubernatorial debate, and after spending the past decade on the wrong side of taxpayers without accountability or transparency — why should they have?

In Rick Perry’s Texas it is easier to get millions of taxpayer dollars for campaign contributions than it is to register to vote, and a Texas under Greg Abbott doesn’t appear that it’d be any different.

Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.



About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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