The Travis County District Attorney’s office is often considered a thorn in the side of Republican lawmakers – accused of politically-motivated investigations and prosecutions of GOP lawmakers because Travis County is one of the few real Democratic strongholds in the state.
But it might be tough for Republicans to make a case that partisanship is a factor in the DA’s newest investigation of a Texas lawmaker. Travis County district attorney’s office has opened a criminal investigation of veteran Democrat state Rep. Dawnna Dukes.
Sean Collins Walsh, who’s covering the story for the Austin American-Statesman, says Dukes, in her 11th term, has allegedly directed her legislative staff to work on a non-profit and run personal errands.
Walsh says the first allegation centers on claims that her staff helped raise money for Huston-Tillotson University in Austin, through Dukes’s annual charity event called the African-American Community Heritage Festival, which she founded 17 years ago.
“Dawnna says that this is perfectly okay because it benefits her constituents… others says it’s using government resources for a non-government purpose,” she says. “And that’s the nature of the investigation.”
The tip came from an email released by a staff member who later left Dukes’s office. Complaints that staffer and other former Dukes staffers filed eventually reached the state auditor’s office.
What you’ll hear in this segment:
– How this case pushes the limit of a long-time question in the Texas Lege about what is acceptable use of legislative staff members’ time
– What kinds of personal errands staffers say they were asked to do for Dukes
– What Dukes says about the allegations