The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.
The public integrity unit, housed in the Travis Count district attorney’s office since its creation in the 1980s, investigates public corruption, among other areas. The unit has been a target for several Republican lawmakers, who feel that prosecutions out of the office have been politically motivated.
In 2013, Gov. Rick Perry vetoed state funding for the unit after Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg declined to step down after a drunken driving arrest.
And during the 2015 legislative session, lawmakers looked to move the unit away from the Travis County DA’s office. There had been talk of moving the unit to the attorney general’s office. But legislators ultimately passed a bill that would direct public corruption complaints against elected officials and state employees to the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Critics say it’s a conflict of interest for politicians to be investigated by an agency whose budget they control. But proponents say that state police are insulated by civil service protection against political pressure.
If an investigation leads to charges, elected officials would now be prosecuted in their home counties under the legislation, which is headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.
Updated: May 31, 2015
- Former legislators as lobbyists
- Lawmaker and lobbyist disclosures
- Overhauling the public integrity unit
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