Politics

Texas Politics
9:02 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Texas Court Of Criminal Appeals Weighing Tom DeLay's Overturned Conviction

Tom DeLay outside the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin.

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 4:33 pm

Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay and his attorneys argued the merits of whether Delay’s 2010 money laundering conviction should remain overturned or if the original punishment should stand.

DeLay was found guilty of taking money donated to his political action committee and feeding it into a number of Texas Republican's campaigns.

In 2013 his conviction was overturned because checks are not considered funds, therefore the prosecution lacked evidence. But earlier this year the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals agreed to hear an appeal of that overturned conviction.

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Politics
2:40 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

District Profile: Texas's 23rd Congressional

Democratic Congressman Pete Gallego of Texas (left) will face Republican Will Hurd in November, in a race that's expected to be close. (U.S. Congress / hurdforcongress.com)

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 2:07 pm

In our weekly look at congressional races across the country, we turn now to Texas’s 23rd congressional district, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego, the incumbent, will face Republican Will Hurd in November.

Hurd, a San Antonio native and former CIA agent, is attempting to shake things up in the Democrat-held district on the border between Texas and Mexico. The race is expected to be very close, in a district that has switched back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in recent years.

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Iraq
6:32 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Militants Attack Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery As Sectarian Clashes Spread

An Iraqi boy and other civilians look at the aftermath of a car bomb in Baghdad's Sadr City on Wednesday. The violence in the Shiite district comes as Sunni militants advance in northern Iraq.
Karim Kadim AP

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 10:06 am

The Sunni militant group that has stormed across Iraq invaded the country's largest oil refinery today, hitting it with mortars. The government is using limited air attacks to strike back at ISIS, which now controls large areas of Iraq's north.

"The oil refinery in Beiji has been under siege since the militant fighters of ISIS seized the town of Beiji in their sweep through northern Iraq," NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Irbil, Iraq. "In an offensive at dawn, ISIS fighters attacked the refinery with machine-gun fire and mortars, according to Iraqi security forces."

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Texas GOP
10:18 am
Tue June 17, 2014

Is the Texas Republican Platform Bad for Business?

RIck Perry gives GOP delegates at the state convention a thumbs up in June 2014.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made a career out of visiting, recruiting, and relocating businesses from California to Texas. But as the state's GOP continues to push further and further to the right of the political spectrum, could the state's ultra-conservative stance hurt recruitment from a progressive state?

First came the Texas Republican Party platform that said homosexuality is a choice and endorsed therapy aimed at "curing" people of being gay – a therapy banned in California.

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Politics
1:29 pm
Wed June 11, 2014

Eric Cantor Says He'll Quit Majority Leader Post After Primary Defeat

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia takes the podium to speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on Wednesday. He announced that he would step down as majority leader on July 31.
Charles Dharapak AP

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 4:50 pm

This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. ET

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, fresh from a stunning primary upset at the hands of a Tea Party rival, said today that he would vacate his leadership post by the end of July to make room for a successor.

"Effective July 31, I will be stepping down as majority leader," Cantor told reporters at a news conference. "It is with great humility that I do so."

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Politics
9:26 am
Wed June 11, 2014

'Stunning': Reactions To Eric Cantor's Election Loss In Virginia

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Dave Brat react after the polls closed Tuesday. Brat defeated Cantor in the Republican primary, a result that shocked many political analysts.
AP

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 9:00 am

"Dollars don't vote — you do." And with that statement to his supporters, college professor Dave Brat ousted seven-term Rep. Eric Cantor in their primary battle Tuesday night. The loss by the No. 2 House Republican shocked many political analysts and the congressman himself.

"It's disappointing, sure," Cantor told supporters after the results came in. "But I believe in this country. I believe there's opportunity around the next corner for all of us."

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GOP Convention
10:24 am
Tue June 10, 2014

Mental Health Group Says Reparative Therapy Stigmatises Texas LGBT Community

Originally published on Tue June 10, 2014 10:13 am

Support and protection for reparative therapy has been included in the 2014 Republican Party of Texas Platform. But a leading mental health organization said this further stigmatizes and shames the Texas LGBT community.

The reparative therapy platform was introduced by Cathie Adams, executive director of the Texas Eagle Forum and adopted without any changes:

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GOP Convention
8:05 pm
Sat June 7, 2014

GOP Approves Hardline Immigration Stance in Party Platform

Delegates wave Dan Patrick posters advocating a more secure border on the Texas Republican Convention floor on June 7, 2014.
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

FORT WORTH — After several hours of debate Saturday, the final day of the biennial state GOP convention, Republican delegates voted to remove the "Texas Solution" from the party’s official platform, reverting to a more hardline stance on immigration.

About 8,000 delegates gathered to consider the party platform and eventually rejected a proposed immigration plank that included language calling for a provisional visa program for immigrants. In its place, they adopted a plank that echoes the party’s 2010 platform. It does not call for a guest-worker program and instead calls for ending in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants and prohibiting sanctuary cities — municipalities that do not enforce immigration laws.

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GOP Convention
8:02 pm
Sat June 7, 2014

Cruz Runs Away with Straw Poll at GOP Convention

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas thanks Republican delegates in Fort Worth on June 6, 2014
Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz easily won the presidential preference straw poll held at the Texas GOP’s state convention Saturday, crushing outgoing Gov. Rick Perry and several other early contenders for the 2016 nomination.

Cruz took 43.4 percent of the vote, according to results announced at the close of the convention. Ben Carson, a columnist and neurosurgeon from Michigan, came in second with 12.2 percent, edging Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who came in third place with 12.1 percent. In something of a surprise, Perry, who made a failed presidential attempt in 2012, came in fourth place with 11.7 percent.

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GOP Convention
3:32 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Plea for Party Unity as Texas Republican Convention Opens

Gov. Rick Perry kicked off the Texas Republican convention this morning in Fort Worth.
Ben Philpott/KUT

Rick Perry, the longest-serving governor in Texas history, kicked off the state GOP convention in Fort Worth today.

In a speech to the party faithful, Gov. Perry addressed the state's shifting demographics that Democrats hope will help them win big in election cycles to come – the "fight to keep Texas red" in the words of convention materials. "The national Democrats think Texas is the new battleground," Perry told the crowd. "Well let's be really clear, Texas will be their political burial ground."

Though he isn't seeking re-election in November, Perry has left the door wide open to a second presidential run in 2016. He told thousands of delegates gathered in Fort Worth that grassroots conservatives have already "changed Texas for the better" and urged them to do the same for America.

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Politics
2:18 pm
Thu June 5, 2014

Senate Confirms Burwell To Top Post At Health And Human Services

Sylvia Mathews Burwell won Senate approval as the new secretary of health and human services.
J. Scott Applewhite AP

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 2:31 pm

The Senate has voted to confirm Sylvia Mathews Burwell to the post of secretary of health and human services, where she will replace Kathleen Sebelius, who presided over the troubled rollout of the HealthCare.gov website.

In a 78-17 vote, Burwell, who served most recently as White House budget director, was approved Thursday.

In a statement released by the White House press office, President Obama said he applauded the confirmation of Burwell.

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Politics
6:34 am
Thu June 5, 2014

Bergdahl's Hometown Cancels Celebration Of His Return

Hailey, Idaho: A sign announcing the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl outside Zaney's coffee shop, where Bergdahl worked as a teenager. A rally celebrating his return home has been canceled, after organizers received threats of protests and hate mail.
Scott Olson Getty Images

Originally published on Thu June 5, 2014 7:48 am

The news of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl's release from five years of captivity had been welcomed as a reason to celebrate in Hailey, Idaho. But organizers of a rally held in Bergdahl's honor while he was a prisoner say they're canceling this year's event, citing backlash over the U.S. deal with the Taliban that freed him.

In recent years, the Bring Back Bowe Rally has been an annual June event in the small town of Hailey, where bikers and POW-MIA support groups gathered to call for his return. Last year's event reportedly drew a crowd of more than 3,000.

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GOP Convention
4:17 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Draft of State GOP Platform Cuts Guest-Worker Language

A fight on Immigration language in the party platform is expected this year.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

As Texas Republicans prepare to convene Thursday in Fort Worth for their three-day state party convention, an early draft of the party's platform shows that language, approved two years ago,supporting a guest-worker program could be removed.

The draft, which was obtained by the Texas Tribune, shows that the language calling for a guest-worker program has been replaced with language to support the enactment of a provisional visa program. The guest-worker program language in 2012 was an unprecedented change to the official state party platform. It called for a national temporary worker program, which would allow foreign nationals to come to the U.S. when jobs are available but citizens are unavailable.

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Politics
2:43 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Amazing Grace: A Love Letter to Texas Women in Politics

Annie's List Executive Director Grace Garcia was a second-generation Mexican American and San Antonio native.
Credit Texas Tribune

Earlier this year, our partners at Texas Monthly opined that 2014 might just be the year for Latina women in Texas politics. But this week, Texas lost it's most politically powerful Latina – and chances are you may not have heard her name until now. 

Grace Garcia died this week in North Texas, en route to a political event featuring Leticia Van de Putte and Wendy Davis. Garcia was Executive Director of Annie's List, a group committed to electing Democratic women.

Though Garcia was unelected, her impact on national and regional politics will likely span generations. So says political strategist Harold Cook in a moving tribute.

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Guns
6:00 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Gun Law Explainer: Where Can You Carry in Texas?

Open carry supporters hope to make further progress during the Texas Republican Convention this weekend.
Erika Rich/Texas Tribune

Over the last few months, exactly where you can carry a gun in Texas has been in the national spotlight. That discussion has kicked up again at this weekend’s Texas GOP convention, where open carry advocates are barred from attending with guns and rifles.

Texas gun laws are already pretty unrestrictive. Here is a rundown:

Owning a gun:

  • You don't need a state permit to purchase a gun
  • You don't have to register a firearm
  • Assault rifles are legal

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Politics
8:14 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Annie's List Executive Director Killed in Fatal Crash

Grace Ann Garcia.
Credit annieslist.com

Grace Garcia, the executive director of the Democratic women-in-politics group Annie's List, was killed in a fatal car accident in Waxahachie on Monday, the organization said early Tuesday morning.

"It is with a tremendous sense of loss that we announce the passing of our executive director and leader Grace Garcia, who lost her life in a car accident Monday afternoon," Annie's List board chair Amber Anderson Mostyn said in a statement. 

Garcia came to work for Annie's List after serving Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as a senior adviser in the Office of the Chief of Protocol. Before working at the State Department, she ran an event management and public affairs firm she founded in 2001.

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GOP Convention
2:53 pm
Mon June 2, 2014

Booze Rules Bar Open Carry Gun Groups from Texas Republican Convention

Open carry supporters won't be able to bring their guns into the Texas GOP convention.
Twitter user @SocialMatchbox and David Yoakum/Twitter user @davidb00ts

Texas Republicans have been vocal supporters of expanding gun rights in Texas. So groups pushing for laws that would expand the ability to carry firearms openly expected to be welcomed at this week's state GOP convention in Fort Worth. But the Texas GOP says the guns, themselves, will have to stay out.

Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri wants the groups to know they are certainly welcome to attend the Republican convention, but their guns will have to remain outside because alcohol is served at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

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Veterans Affairs
10:52 am
Fri May 30, 2014

VA Chief Eric Shinseki Resigns Post, Obama Announces

Eric Shinseki resigned as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, in what President Obama said was a decision spurred by a desire to not distract from efforts to fix the agency's problems. Earlier Friday, Shinseki spoke at a conference in Washington.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 12:10 pm

Embattled Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned his position, hours after saying he would work to fix "systemic" problems in the VA's health care system.

President Obama said Friday that the decision was made so Shinseki wouldn't be a "distraction" from efforts to address the agency's wide-ranging problems.

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GOP Convention
4:02 pm
Thu May 29, 2014

Gay Conservatives Denied 'Official' Spot at Texas GOP Convention

Log Cabin Republicans want an official spot at next week's Texas GOP convention.
logcabin.org

The Texas Republican Party has denied the Log Cabin Republicans a space at next week's state convention. Log Cabin Republicans represent gay conservatives and supporters of marriage equality in the party. 

Log Cabin Republican Executive Director Gregory Angelo says the state party denied the group’s application for a booth at the convention because, as homosexuals, they disagree with a plank in the party platform. The plank reads, in part, that "homosexuality tears at the fabric of society."

"It was our obligation to let the voters of Texas know and to let members of the Republican Party in Texas know that that language is in the party platform and it is being used to intentionally exclude gay Republicans from formal participation in the state GOP convention," Angelo says.

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Address at West Point
11:08 am
Wed May 28, 2014

Obama Emphasizes Importance Of Alliances In Foreign Policy Address

President Obama arrives to deliver the commencement address to the Military Academy at West Point on Wednesday. In a broad defense of his foreign policy, the president declared that the U.S. remains the world's most indispensable nation, even after a "long season of war," but he underscored that not every global problem has a military solution.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 1:37 pm

President Obama sought to recast if not reboot his overall approach to foreign policy with his graduation address at West Point on Wednesday.

In essence answering critics who have complained that his administration has lacked forceful responses to challenges in places such as Syria, Iran, Ukraine and Nigeria, Obama emphasized that "America must always lead on the world stage."

But he underscored that not every global problem has a military solution.

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