Dawnna Dukes Indicted on Charges of Misuse of Public Funds, Tampering with Public Records

The three charges accuse the longtime Austin state representative of using staff time and campaign funds for personal purposes, as well as tampering with records to gain reimbursement.

By KUT News & Alexandra HartJanuary 18, 2017 2:06 pm|

Story from KUT. Texas Standard spoke to KUT’s Ben Philpott about the indictment.

Dawnna Dukes has been indicted by a Travis County grand jury in relation to charges that she misused public resources and tampered with public records. The three charges accuse the longtime Austin state representative of using staff time and campaign funds for personal purposes, as well as tampering with records to gain reimbursement. Dukes was formally indicted on two counts of abuse of official capacity and one count of tampering with public records on Wednesday.

A release from Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said Dukes is accused of 13 separate instances of tampering with a governmental record in that indictment. Each of those counts are punishable by up to a two-year state jail sentence and a $10,000 fine.

The additional two indictments for abuse of official capacity allege that she used both public money and campaign money for personal purposes. Both are class A misdemeanors and are punishable by a maximum one-year jail sentence and a $4,000 fine.

Read more from KUT here.

The Standard spoke to KUT Senior Editor Ben Philpott about the grand jury indictment. He says it is possible Dukes’ indictments will lead to more ethics discussion in the legislature.

“The Texas House, in the last session and in this session, seems pretty committed to the idea of different ethics reform measures,” he says.

Most of the ethics conversation focuses on campaign finance, donations to lawmakers and dark money going into nonprofit organizations.

“But that can also trickle down to ‘Hey look, we’ve just had kind of one of our own indicted on these counts, maybe we should take a look at how we’re treating our staff and how we’re using that money as well.'”