News Roundup: MJ Hegar Will Challenge John Cornyn In 2020

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelApril 23, 2019 1:58 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

Central Texas Democrat and former congressional candidate MJ Hegar announced Tuesday she’s challenging Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn for his seat in 2020. She declared her candidacy in a video.

“Texans deserve a senator who represents our values strength, courage, independence – putting Texas first. I didn’t get a pilot’s slot my first time trying, but we Texans don’t give up easy and everything we’ve accomplished is just the beginning. So saddle up Texas because we’ve got work to do,” Hegar said in the video.

Hegar gained national attention last year when she challenged another Republican incumbent, U.S. Rep. John Carter of Round Rock. Hegar, a former Air Force helicopter pilot, narrowly lost to Carter, and she acknowledged that loss in the video. She also came out swinging against Sen. Cornyn, emphasizing his close relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“He calls himself ‘Big John’ but he shrinks out of the way, while Mitch McConnell gets in the way of anything getting done in our government,” Hegar also said in the video.

Cornyn was, until recently, the Senate Majority Whip, or the second- ranking Republican in the Senate. Cornyn’s campaign manager John Jackson reacted to Hegar’s announcement in a campaign email, calling her the handpicked choice of New York Sen. Chuck Schumer. Jackson added, “Texans rejected her radical views once, and they will again.”

Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of San Antonio has also said he’s considering a bid against Cornyn.

Lawyers representing a group of women suing Baylor University are seeking new documents related to the ongoing case.

“This is a group of 15 women – several cases that have been consolidated under one heading – that have sued Baylor, accusing the school of failing to protect them from sexual assault on campus,” says David Baron, who’s been following the lawsuit for the Houston Chronicle.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say the university is withholding a report produced by the law firm Pepper Hamilton, which Baylor hired in 2015 to investigate how the school handled allegations of sexual assault. Once the investigation was complete, university officials released a 13-page document listing their findings and recommendations.

Baron says lawyers for the plaintiffs argue emails obtained earlier this month prove there was a longer written report.

“The phrase ‘Pepper Hamilton report’ has been batted around almost constantly since 2016. And then the question is, if there is a report in what form does it exist?” Baron says.

Pepper Hamilton and Baylor University deny the existence of any report. Lawyers for the plaintiffs are asking the court to begin fining Pepper Hamilton if the firm does not produce the documents they’re requesting.

Federal investigators are looking into two small-plane crashes in as many days in Texas. One was near the Kerrville Municipal Airport on Monday morning, which killed six people. Texas Public Radio reports the twin-engine Beechcraft BE58 went down shortly before 9 a.m. CDT. The Texas Department of Safety identified the victims as pilot Jeffery Carl Weiss, 65; Stuart Roben Kensinger, 55; Angela Webb Kensinger, 54; Mark Damien Scioneaux, 58;  Scott Reagan Miller, 55; and Marc Tellepsen, 45. All were Houston residents. The other crash, on Sunday, occurred in Kingsland, about 50 miles northwest of Austin, and left two people dead.