Posts Tagged ‘Dawnna Dukes’

Dukes Plea Deal Expires, Headed for Trial

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

The plea deal for Austin Democratic State Rep. Dawnna Dukes on corruption charges has expired.

The Travis County District Attorney’s office on Tuesday said its offer to drop all corruption charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, in exchange for her agreeing to resign immediately had expired.

In a statement sent to The Texas Tribune after 5 p.m. Tuesday, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore said she’d had no contact from the attorneys for Dukes.

“The offer to resolve this matter has expired and is no longer available,” Moore said in a statement. “We will be ready for trial.”

As a part of the deal, Dukes would’ve had to also pay $3,500 in fines and restitution and agree to a drug and alcohol assessment. Dukes has previously denied charges that she had her legislative staff run personal errands and that she was compensated for days she did not work at the Texas Capitol.

Dukes seems awful confident of beating the rap, especially since her previous legal team bailed:

On July 25, two of Dukes’ Houston-based lawyers filed a motion to withdraw as counsel, citing an inability to “effectively communicate with the defendant on matters essential to the representation.”

State Rep. René Oliveira, D-Brownsville, put out a statement Tuesday night indicating he was representing Dukes, writing that the 12-term representative rejected the Travis County DA’s proposal because she “strongly reiterates her innocence,” adding that the “inexplicable request that she undergo some drug assessment is absurd.” He said neither Dukes nor her attorneys plan on commenting further.

Oliveira has been practicing law since 1979, so presumably he knows what he’s doing.

Maybe Dukes saw that John Wiley Price beat a federal rap and figured she could so the same for the comparatively piddling local charges. Given how quickly DA Margaret Moore was willing to sweep away the cobwebs of the Ronnie Earle/Rosemary Lehmberg era at the DA’s office, she may have miscalculated.

The trial is currently scheduled to start October 16.

DA to Dukes: Resign or Else

Monday, July 31st, 2017

There’s been a new development in Democrat State Rep. Dawnna Dukes corruption case:

Beleaguered state Rep. Dawnna Dukes has until the end of the day Tuesday to resign from office — and submit to a drug and alcohol assessment — as part of a plea offer in her criminal corruption case.

The plea offer is similar to one Dukes rejected last year prior to the Texas Rangers launching an investigation that led to a Travis County grand jury indicting Dukes on 13 felony charges and two misdemeanors.

Dukes did not respond to messages left by the American-Statesman on Monday morning. She told reporters in June after pleading not guilty that she would not take any plea deals and instead will proceed to trial on Oct. 16.

The deal expires at the close of the business day on Tuesday and will not be re-offered, according to Justin Wood of the district attorney’s office. In addition to her resignation, the plea offer calls for Dukes to:

  • Submit to a drug and alcohol assessment and complete any treatment and counseling recommended as a result of the assessment. In a March 29 meeting of the House Appropriations Committee, Dukes showed up late and, after posing a rambling question, referred to medication she was on — “I know I’m talking a lot. I’m full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon,” she said.
  • Pay restitution in the amount of $3,000 related to charges of tampering with governmental records and abuse of official capacity. Dukes is alleged to have collected pay for days she did not travel to the Capitol in the 2014 Legislative session. She’s also charged with using her legislative staff for personal chores.
  • Pay a $500 fine to the Texas Ethics Commission. Dukes was sued by the commission earlier this month for missing a deadline for an elections finance report and then not paying the fine.
  • Waive her right to a speedy trial in any future litigation related to these matters
  • In exchange for accepting the offer, the DA’s office has agreed to drop all charges, but only after Dukes has complied with all conditions.

    If found guilty at trial, Dukes could face a maximum punishment of 28 years in prison.

    Dukes’ attorney, Dane Ball, of Houston, declined comment Monday morning and would not say if he is still representing Dukes in this case.

    Dukes was indicted in January and pled not guilty June 30. Her continuing in the legislature was a surprise, as she had been absent from from the legislature for more than a year for “medical reasons,” and had previously said she would step down, but then changed her mind and was sworn in for the 85th Texas legislature.

    Dukes previously stated she wanted to go to trial, but she has continually delayed the case, most recently on the grounds of legislative continuance, a cause that would still presumably hold while the special session is active.

    And if she beats the rap, Dukes says she’s considering running for reelection again in 2018.

    Stay tuned…

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    Dawnna Dukes Indicted on 15 Counts, Faces 28 Years in Jail

    Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

    The shoe has landed:

    A grand jury has indicted state Rep. Dawnna Dukes on 13 felony corruption charges and two misdemeanors, with a maximum penalty of 28 years behind bars, a courthouse source said Wednesday.

    Dukes, an Austin Democrat, faces two misdemeanor counts of abuse of official capacity and 13 felony counts of tampering with public records, a source with knowledge of the case said. Travis County prosecutors and investigators from the Texas Rangers presented the evidence to the grand jurors Tuesday, who indicted Dukes on the first day that they met to consider the case.

    The indictment comes seven days after Dukes reneged on a promise to step down and took the oath of office for a 12th two-year term representing parts of North Austin, East Austin, Pflugerville and Manor.

    Dukes posted a statement on Facebook following the indictment, which was first reported by Spectrum News: “Of course, I am disappointed but I expected that if I was sworn into office in January 10th that this indictment would follow. All I can say today is that I will be entering a plea of Not Guilty.”

    One abuse of official capacity charge deals with Dukes using her legislative staff for personal purposes. In April, the American-Statesman reported that Dukes had arranged to give a taxpayer-funded raise to an aide to cover gas money for driving Dukes’ daughter to and from school.

    With the other abuse of official capacity charge, the grand jury accused Dukes of using money raised from campaign contributors for personal purposes. Politicians may use campaign money to pay for election activities or for expenses related to carrying out their elected office, but state law forbids them from using it for personal purposes.

    Dukes has made numerous questionable expenditures from her campaign account over the years, including $13,000 in payments to family members, $30,000 on gas and $2,700 to a seamstress, a Statesman investigation in June found.

    $13,000 to family members? Yeah, that’s gonna raise red flags.

    The grand jury accused Dukes of converting to personal use campaign expenditures that were earmarked for the African-American Community Heritage Festival, an East Austin event Dukes co-founded 18 years ago but ended last year after negative attention caused by the investigation. Dukes has listed at least $17,600 in campaign expenditures for the festival, including $303 to an electronics store for “replacement of digital camera broken by staff,” $146 for Mardi Gras beads and more than $7,000 for musical performers, the Statesman investigation found.

    The 13 charges for tampering with public records concerns an allegation that Dukes collected pay from the state during the 2014 legislative interim for days that she did not travel to the Capitol, which is required under House rules. The American-Statesman in May reported that a former Dukes staffer had accused the legislator of filing requests for per diem payments for days that she never traveled to the Capitol and may not have worked at all.

    So Dukes was getting paid for not working. In other words, she was living the Democratic Party dream…

    (Previously.)

    (Hat tip: Dwight.)

    Dawnna Dukes Case Headed to Grand Jury

    Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

    In an update to the Dawnna Dukes story, her case is headed to a grand jury:

    Travis County prosecutors and Texas Rangers will present evidence to a grand jury that state Rep. Dawnna Dukes abused the power of her office, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore told the American-Statesman.

    Among possible charges: abuse of official capacity and tampering with public records, Moore said.

    Dukes was sworn into office for a 12th term Tuesday after reneging on a plan to step down before the Legislature convened.

    Moore said that the grand jury proceedings will begin next Tuesday.

    Snip.

    Shortly after the Texas Rangers presented their case against Dukes to Travis County prosecutors in September, the Austin Democrat announced she would step down when her term expired, citing medical issues related to a 2013 car crash had made it impossible for her to serve.

    Days ago, however, Dukes changed her mind. She was sworn in to a 12th term on Tuesday with the rest of her House colleagues.

    The Travis County DA doesn’t have a great reputation (see also: Rosemary Lehmberg and Ronnie Earl), but the Rangers are in a different league entirely.

    (Previously.)

    Dawnna Dukes Changes Course, Refuses to Step Down

    Saturday, January 7th, 2017

    Well, this is an interesting turn of events:

    State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, has informed Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore that she will not step down from her seat in the Texas House as planned when the House convenes for a new session Tuesday, Moore told the American-Statesman Saturday.

    Moore, newly-sworn in as district attorney, said that Dukes had called her to inform her of her decision.

    Moore said he was already scheduled to meet with Texas Rangers investigating ethics charges against Dukes on Tuesday and would proceed with that meeting and then decide whether to go before a grand jury and seek an indictment of Dukes.

    Dukes announced in September that she would not be sworn in for a 12th term when the next session of the Texas Legislature convenes Jan. 10. Dukes cited medical complications stemming from a 2013 car crash as the reason for her departure, but her announcement came soon after the Texas Rangers completed an investigation into her use of legislative staff and campaign money.

    It’s hard to fathom why she’s doing this, unless it’s to somehow gain more leverage for a better plea deal. Or maybe she just has no other potential job prospects that will let her pretend to work from home while not showing up, given that the last time I covered this story she had been absent from the legislature for a year.

    But I can’t help thinking that Dukes’ desire to remain in the Statehouse will make it a lot more likely that she ends up in the big house instead…

    (Hat tip: Matt Mackowiak’s Twitter feed.)

    LinkSwarm for October 7, 2016

    Friday, October 7th, 2016

    It’s been one of those weeks. Enjoy a Friday LinkSwarm:

  • This just in: The eight years of the Obama Administration have been a miserable failure.
  • Some ObamaCare patients are losing their plans, others are facing huge rate hikes. In Tennessee, they’re getting both. (Hat tip: Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt.)
  • More on the same theme:

    ObamaCare’s unraveling shows the danger of a one-size-fits-all federal program. What’s happening in Tennessee is only a nationwide harbinger. Every single neighboring state will have less competition on its ObamaCare exchanges next year. The entire state of Alabama will have only one insurer. Almost all are facing double-digit premium increases: in Mississippi a weighted average of 16%; in Kentucky 25%; in Georgia 33%.

    These problems aren’t confined to the Southeast. ObamaCare exchange buyers will have only one option in nearly a third of American counties, according to an August report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. That’s a 300% increase in single-option counties from last year. Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have approved rates leading to average premium increases next year of over 26%.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Indiana police raid offices in nine county voting fraud case. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • And speaking of voting fraud, the 86 non-citizens registered to vote in Philadelphia are just the tip of the iceberg. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • There’s even a huge voting fraud investigation going on in Tarrant County, with “a vote harvesting scheme involving as many as 20,000 ballots.”
  • Michael Moore: “I don’t think people do trust the Democrats.”
  • Even MSNBC panelists nail the media for obvious left-wing bias.
  • Race relations have gotten worse under Obama. That’s what happens when you have George Soros spending millions to poison race relations, and let Social Justice Warriors go rampaging through your institutions…
  • Both Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte and Donald Trump are gaining in New Hampshire. Remember that until very recently New Hampshire was considered a solidly Republican state.
  • Mayor de Blasio is thin-skinned and unable to handle even the slightest criticism.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • NFL ratings are down across the, and one-third of people surveyed says its because of the Black Lives Matter pandering. (Hat tip: Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt.)
  • Followup: Dawanna Dukes seeks a plea deal. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • So even Canada has giant brawls in its McDonalds? Bonus: Baby raccoon.
  • Peak Florida? (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)
  • Democratic Rep. Dawnna Dukes To Become More Officially Absent

    Thursday, September 29th, 2016

    Austin Democratic state Rep. Dawnna Dukes announced she’s stepping down from the legislature.

    Her ostensible reason for leaving is health issues, stemming from a serious car crash she suffered in 2013. (“State Rep. Ruth McClendon-Jones, D-San Antonio, said Dukes is resting at home now after being hospitalized for several hours after the incident. She said Dukes’ vehicle was rear-ended by a large truck while stuck in traffic.” While it does sound serious, I do note that “serious injuries” from a car crash usually require more than “a few hours” in the hospital.)

    But her “health-related” retirement “comes as the Travis County District Attorney’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into her alleged misuse of staff and government funds”:

    Former staff members accused Dukes of seeking reimbursement from the state for travel payments she was not entitled to. In February, The Texas Tribune reported that the state auditor’s office was investigating her use of state workers on a personal project Dukes oversaw, the African American Heritage Festival. The auditors referred the case to Travis County prosecutors.

    Then, in April, state officials said the Texas Rangers had joined the Travis County District Attorney’s office criminal probe. A spokesman for the Rangers, Tom Vinger, said Monday their investigation is complete and has been presented to the Travis County District Attorney’s office.

    “In her resignation statement, [Dukes] said she was ‘content that two signature community programs I initiated enriched my beloved District 46 and Austin community.’ It does sound like there was some sort of enrichment going on.

    Chanman’s Musings has some thoughts on her resignation pay bump.

    While Dukes is stepping down and has been absent from the legislature for more than a year, her name will still be on the ballot in November, which means that Gov. Greg Abbott will have to call a special election next year unless Republican challenger Gabriel Nila beats her in November. Which may be difficult, as the district is so heavily Democratic. If he loses, at least three Democrats (Austin Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, Joe Deshotel (son of state Rep. Joe Deshotel), and Travis County Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Harding) have said they’re considering running.

    Election Update for October 28, 2014

    Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

    Your “one week until Election Day” roundup of news:

  • Republicans lead going into the final stretch. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Thomas Sowell: “Many Democrats are running away from Barack Obama, but they can’t hide their record of voting for Obama’s agenda more than 90 percent of the time.”
  • Democrats: “Jerk your knees, women! Damnit, jerk your knees!
  • Speaking of pandering to women: Evidently, it isn’t working for Mark Udall in Colorado. “A myopic focus on reproductive freedom and the ‘War on the Women’ does not seem to be an effective way to mobilize and motivate women in a year when the economy and jobs are at the forefront of voters’ minds.”
  • Indeed, the gender gap is working against Udall, since Gardner’s lead among men is much bigger than Udall’s narrow lead among women.
  • Denver Post: Udall sucks so bad we’re actually endorsing a Republican.
  • An ad that targets Kay Hagan the same way the last one targeted Mary Landrieu:

    (Hat tip: Moe Lane.)

  • The latest poll has Hagan tied with Thom Tillis, a precarious place for a Democratic incumbent a week out from a Republican wave election.
  • Early signs point to Republicans picking up a new Nevada congressional district which was D+4 in 2012.
  • Texans favor voter ID by a 3-1 margin.
  • Wendy Davis has just over a half-million funds on-hand for the last week of the campaign.
  • Texas State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-im): Greg Abbott is a guy who “just rolls around.”
  • Texas Democrats thinking “this time will be different!” because of money spent targeting Hispanic voters are forgetting Tony Sanchez’s big bucks 2002 campaign. “Perhaps Texas Latinos just don’t like the shoddy liberal product that Texas Democrats keep trying to sell them.”
  • Why you should vote against exapanding Capitol Metro’s toy trains.
  • More on the same theme.
  • Holly Hansen’s Round Rock ISD endorsements.
  • Remember: When in doubt, it’s always safe to vote against the Austin Chronicle‘s endorsements.