Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has had a bad political year, possibly two years. He failed to beat Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate last year, when he was seen as the odds-on favorite. Dewhurst is alsounder fire for how the first Special Session ended, and for not controlling the crowd in the Senate gallery following Senator Wendy Davis’ filibuster. Now Allen police revealed he called them in hopes of getting a family member out of jail.
What’s worse? There’s audio.
Dewhurst never tries to overtly influence his relative’s release, but he foolishly name drops his position multiple times. He also mentions how big of a supporter of law enforcement he is, then name drops the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety. This isn’t a small town mayor or judge saying to a police chief, “Look I’ll pay the fine, you let my dumb family member/friend go.” It’s the freaking lieutenant governor saying it to Allen, which is one of the bigger suburbs of Dallas. And it wasn’t a small store, it was a Kroger. Which has security cameras and probably a policy and paperwork when it comes to shoplifting.
The most damning comment may be when he asks for the numbers of the Allen police sergeant’s lieutenant, the Collin County sheriff and the county judge. It’s here it appears Dewhurst could try to influence what happens to his family member. That’s only speculation, and only Dewhurst knows what he was trying to do, but it seems bad. Thankfully the officer doesn’t give either to Dewhurst.
Calls like this probably happen all the time. A family member calls the local police to figure out bond information, charges and what needs to be done. It’s understandable.
But Dewhurst isn’t a “normal citizen”; he’s an elected official, and the second most powerful politician in Austin. He should know better, especially when he’s expected to have a tough fight for re-election. To his credit, Dewhurst didn’t swear, like Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did during her DWI arrest. And it’s not near as bad as anything ex-Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is accused of doing while in office. Dewhurst also points out he’ll pay the family member’s bail, and says he’ll do “whatever the law allows.” That’s to his credit, and needs to be remembered in the debate over his phone call.
It’s another example of a politician giving off the air of malfeasance when none should exist. It’s something leaders, including Governor Rick Perry, seem to forget all the time. It’s reckless and does little to inspire “public trust.”
Should Dewhurst resign? Probably not, because it won’t matter. The legislature is out of session and he’s not expected to preside over any meetings. But Dewhurst should consider dropping his re-election bid. He already appears weak, which is probably why he completely revamped his campaign staff with grassroots folks. But his latest misstep has his announced Republican opponents already frothing at the mouth. It wouldn’t be surprising if Democrats consider running a candidate if it appears Dewhurst will win the primary.
For all we know this won’t matter. After all, Rick Perry was caught on camera trying to get an aide out of a warning for speeding and it didn’t hurt him. But this shows the race for Texas lieutenant governor will be even more fun than the race for governor. Regardless of what Wendy Davis decides to do.
After all, Texas politics is a sport.