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Government/Politics

A Bill That Strips The State’s Public Integrity Unit Of Power Makes Its Way Out Of The Texas House

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Ryan E. Poppe
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One of the main functions of the state’s public integrity unit is to investigate political crime and public corruption.  A bill that would strip that power away gets initial approval in the Texas House on a 91 to 54 vote.

 

The legislation by Weatherford Republican Representative Phil King transfers all political investigations over to the Texas Rangers and has the cases heard in the home county of the accused state official.  

 

Houston Democratic Rep. Armando Walle found it strange that the House took up the bill immediately following the release of a letter from the head of the Public Integrity Unit telling the Department of Public Safety, the unit, run out of the Travis County District Attorney’s office, did not have enough resources to investigate DPS’ contract bidding process.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
Democrats Armando Walle and Roland Gutierrez were one of several members that challenged HB 1690

 

 “Don’t you think it’s a little coincidental that that letter came out on the day we are about to vote on your bill?,” Walle asked.

 

King refused to see the correlation between the two.

 

“That letter has a lot to do with the bill because it shows some of the power grab that a particular agency is about to amass, who’s going to police the police?,” Walle asked.

 

Others like San Antonio Democrat Roland Gutierrez believe that would create a real problem with transparency and impartiality.

 

“Where in lies the problem is your friend the DA and your friend the County Attorney, which you say will recuse themselves, sometimes may not,” Gutierrez questioned King.

 

“You have the same problem in Travis County,” King fired back.

 

Others say King’s legislation would give the governor’s office ultimate control over political investigations because the governor oversees the Texas Rangers. The Senate passed a similar bill earlier in the session.