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Entries in Texas (85)

Monday
Oct312011

First Lady Postpones Houston Fundraiser at Home of Ex-Enron Exec

Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy(WASHINGTON) -- First lady Michelle Obama has postponed a campaign fundraiser that had been scheduled for Tuesday at the Houston home of billionaire and former Enron executive John Arnold, her office announced Monday.

The White House advisory cited “scheduling conflicts” for the change. Dana Guefen, a co-chair for the event, declined to comment to ABC News on why the event was moved.

Obama was to also appear at an earlier, larger fundraiser at the Westin Oaks in Houston. She was slated as the keynote speaker at both events.

Arnold, 37, one of the 400 richest Americans according to Forbes, was one of Barack Obama’s top financiers in 2008, bundling between $50,000 and $100,000 in contributions for his election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has personally given the legal maximum -- $5,000 -- to Obama for 2012, records show.

An Obama campaign official said the Houston fundraisers would be rescheduled as soon as possible. They were to benefit the Obama Victory Fund, a joint account run by President Obama and the Democratic National Committee. Ticket prices for the Arnold event ranged from $10,000 up to $35,800, the combined legal maximum.

The first lady will still travel to New Orleans Tuesday to attend a campaign fundraiser and an event for her “Let’s Move” initiative, the White House says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct042011

Obama Campaigns on Rick Perry’s Home Turf

File photo. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will spend Tuesday promoting his jobs bill and raising campaign cash in Texas, the home state of GOP presidential candidate and the Lone Star state's Gov. Rick Perry.

The president will fly to Dallas where he will deliver remarks at two campaign events before heading to Mesquite, Texas, to pitch his $447 billion jobs bill at a local school.

The president is expected to again claim his American Jobs Act would prevent teacher layoffs and modernize school buildings and campuses across the country, and again urge Congress to pass the bill.

It’s then off to St. Louis, where the president will attend two more campaign fundraisers before returning to Washington late in the evening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct032011

Rick Perry Denies Accuracy of Story on Family Lodge, Racial Slur

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry found himself playing defense again on Sunday, this time facing a new round of criticism stemming from a Washington Post report on his family’s lease on hunting grounds, which once was known by a racist name that is derogatory towards blacks.

According to the Washington Post, Perry and his father held leases on a property in West Texas that was once called “N*****head.”  The camp was called by that name for years before Perry and his father partook in the lease.  A stone bearing this word stood at the entrance to the property, but the word was later painted over, and the rock was overturned so the offensive word would not be seen, the Post reported.

The Perry campaign contested the claims made by the Washington Post, saying the family never owned the property that bore the derogatory name.

“A number of claims made in the story are incorrect, inconsistent, and anonymous, including the implication that Rick Perry brought groups to the lease when the word on the rock was still visible.  The one consistent fact in the story is that the word on a rock was painted over and obscured many years ago,” Perry communications director Ray Sullivan said in a statement.

Perry’s father Ray first leased the property in 1983.  Perry told the Washington Post in an e-mail that his father painted over the word shortly after he joined the lease.

“When my Dad joined the lease in 1983, he took the first opportunity he had to paint over the offensive word on the rock during the 4th of July holiday,” Perry told the Post.  “It is my understanding that the rock was eventually turned over to further obscure what was originally written on it.”

Perry himself held a hunting lease on the land for several years between 1997 and 2007.  His campaign says Perry has not visited the grounds since 2006.

“My mother and father went to the lease and painted the rock in either 1983 or 1984,” Perry told the newspaper.  “This occurred after I paid a visit to the property with a friend and saw the rock with the offensive word.  After my visit I called my folks and mentioned it to them, and they painted it over during their next visit.”

“Ever since, any time I ever saw the rock it was painted over,” Perry said.

But the Washington Post spoke with seven anonymous sources who had different recollections, saying they saw the rock with the racial slur on the property during the span that Perry leased the hunting grounds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep292011

Rick Perry Walks Back ‘No Heart’ Comment on Tuition for Illegals

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Facing heat for his positions on illegal immigration, Rick Perry walked back last week’s statement at a Republican presidential debate that people who oppose in-state tuition for illegal immigrants have "no heart."

“I probably choose a poor word to explain that.  For people who don’t want their state to be giving tuition to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants in this country, that’s their call, and I respect that,” Perry said in an interview with Newsmax.  “I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word, and it was inappropriate.”

At last week’s debate, Perry voiced his support for a bill passed in 2001 that provides illegal immigrants who have lived in Texas for three years with access to in-state tuition rates at public universities.  The Texas governor went as far as suggesting that people who opposed such initiatives have “no heart.”

“If you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart,” Perry said at the debate.  “We need to be educating these children because they will become a drag on our society.”

Perry, who opposes the federal DREAM Act, expressed his stance that matters such as providing in-state tuition to illegal immigrants should be left to the states and that the federal government needs to enhance border security.

“It is a state’s sovereign right to decide that issue for themselves.  In Texas in 2001, we had 181 members of the legislature.  Only four voted against this piece of legislation because it wasn’t about immigration.  It was about education,” Perry said.  “The bigger issue is that the federal government has failed in its constitutional duty to secure our borders.”

Perry’s rivals have tried to capitalize on his support of in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.  Mitt Romney attacked him the next day, saying opposing such initiatives means you “have a heart and a brain.”  Even New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has recently fueled speculation about a potential presidential bid, chimed in on the issue Tuesday night.

“I want every child who comes to New Jersey to be educated, but I don’t believe that for those people who came here illegally, we should be subsidizing, with taxpayer money through in-state tuition, their education,” Christie said.  “And let me be very clear from my perspective: That is not a heartless position.  That is a common sense position.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

George Bush Executed Texans at Faster Rate than Rick Perry

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry has overseen the most executions of any governor in the history of this country, but the rate at which the state of Texas has executed people was actually higher under his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Under Perry, Texas has executed 235 people over nearly 11 years -- amounting to more than 21 people per year. During Bush’s five-year tenure as governor, 152 people were executed in Texas -- more than 30 per year.

Perry has never been shy about his support of the death penalty. At a Republican debate in California earlier this month, he drew cheers from the audience when he said he loses no sleep over the executions conducted in Texas and that the death penalty serves as the “ultimate justice.”

“In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed,” Perry said in a debate.

In his book, Fed Up! Perry opined about the need to leave the decisions on the death penalty to the states and not to the Supreme Court.

“In the end, the states know best how they wish to punish criminals and for what crimes. Are we perfect? No,” Perry wrote. “For Washington, and in particular the Supreme Court, to step in and tell us, our friends in Louisiana, or any other state, whether it is right to execute a heinous criminal -- or tell us how to carry out justice -- is the height of arrogance and disregards federalism at its most basic level.”

In the past 10 days, four executions were scheduled to take place in Texas. One occurred early last week, and the most recent execution was carried out Wednesday evening. However, the Supreme Court also halted two Texas executions that were scheduled to take place in the past 10 days.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Fact Check: Did Rick Perry Double Texans’ Taxes?

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Republican presidential debate started to look more like a Texas showdown Monday night when Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, accused his governor and fellow GOP candidate Rick Perry of doubling his taxes.

“I’m a taxpayer there.  My taxes have gone up.  Our taxes have doubled since he’s been in office,” Paul said in response to the question about whether Perry should get credit for Texas’ job growth.  ”So I would put a little damper on this but I don’t want to offend the governor because he might raise my taxes or something.”

But while Paul’s taxes have gone up in the decade Perry has been governor, the increase seems to have resulted more from the rising value of his house than policies handed down from the state House.

Paul paid $1,884.42 in county and local taxes in 2000, the year Perry was first elected governor, according to the Brazoria County Tax Office.  Texas does not have a state income tax.  He paid $2,440.37 last year, about 23 percent more.  The value of Paul’s house, which affects how much property tax he pays, rose from $150,000 to about $300,000 during the same 10-year.

Even on the revenue side, Texas’ taxes did not double.  The Lone Star state collected about $10 billion more in 2010 than it did a decade ago, an increase of about 29 percent.

“I can tell you that taxes that the Legislature votes on sure have not doubled,” said Joshua Trevino, vice president for communications at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a free-market policy think tank.  “It is possible his property tax went up, but that’s not something Austin or the governor has anything to do with.”

The effective tax rate was 7.1 percent when Perry took office in 2000, according to Tax Foundation estimates.  Only five states had lower tax burdens.  That burden had risen slightly to 7.9 percent by 2009, the most recent year for which data is available.  But the Lone Star state’s tax burden remained the fifth lowest in the country.

Mark Robyn, an economist with the Tax Foundation, said the change was “not that significant.”  He said the 0.8 percentage point increase could be the result of increases in sales tax revenue because “in a state that is growing economically, it’s conceivable that they would collect more sales tax revenue because people are spending more.”

In Perry’s 10-year tenure in the Texas state House, the only major change to Texas’ tax code was a 2006 policy that revamped property taxes in order to comply with a state Supreme Court ruling that found Texas’ school financing system unconstitutional.

Perry called a special session of the state Legislature in which lawmakers passed a proposal to decrease property taxes by up to a third and increase the state’s share of education funding from 34 percent to 50 percent.  The property tax breaks were offset by increasing the cigarette tax from 41 cents to $1.41 per pack and increasing the number of companies that pay franchise tax on business profits.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep082011

Rick Perry Receives Applause for ‘Ultimate Justice’ at GOP Debate

David J. Sams/Getty Images(SIMI VALLEY, Calif.) -- Rick Perry apparently loses no sleep over authorizing 234 executions in more than a decade as Texas' governor.

Perry has authorized more executions than any governor in the history of the United States.  He said at a Republican presidential debate Wednesday that he has never worried that the state of Texas has executed an innocent man.

“I’ve never struggled with that at all.  The state of Texas has a very thoughtful, a very clear process in place,” Perry said.  “When someone commits the most heinous of crimes against our citizens, they get a fair hearing, they go through an appellate process, they go up to the Supreme Court of the United States if that’s required.”

Perry said the death penalty should be dealt with on a state-by-state basis but supports the decision of Texas to uphold the death penalty, calling it the “ultimate justice.”

“In the state of Texas, if you come into our state and you kill one of our children, you kill a police officer, you’re involved with another crime and you kill one of our citizens, you will face the ultimate justice in the state of Texas, and that is you will be executed,” he said.

When NBC’s Brian Williams asked Perry the question about the death penalty and pointed to the 234 executions -- even before Perry answered -- the Republican debate crowd erupted in applause for the governor’s actions.  Perry pointed to the applause as indicating a vast majority of Americans supports capital punishment.

The next execution in Texas is scheduled for Sept. 15.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Will Rick Perry Leave Burning Texas for GOP Debate?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry said his appearance at Wednesday's GOP debate in California is a “fluid situation” due to the wildfires in Texas but didn’t completely rule out his appearance, pointing to the ability of Texans to multitask.

“That’s a fluid situation at the moment,” Perry said on CBS’ Early Show.  “We’re very focused on the events at hand.  And the other side of that is we’re pretty good about multitasking as well, whether its Hurricane Ike or Katrina as we brought a lot of people in from Louisiana back over the years.  We can do more than one thing pretty well in the state of Texas.”

A spokesman for Perry said the governor still plans on attending the debate at this time.

Perry left the campaign trail on Monday to tend to the wildfires in Texas, canceling his appearance at Sen. Jim DeMint’s forum in South Carolina and other events scheduled in California Tuesday.

The Texas governor appeared on several morning shows Tuesday to discuss relief efforts following the wildfires spreading across the Lone Star state. Perry avoided most political questions, saying his attention is solely focused on ensuring the people of the state are protected.

When asked about the existence of his own jobs plan given Mitt Romney and President Obama are releasing plans of their own this week, Perry said there’s still a lot of time on the calendar to lay out a plan of his own, but right now he has his eye on his “day job.”

“Well the 50 things that I’m focused on right now are the number of fires in the state of Texas, so there’s plenty of time to lay out ideas about job creation which we do on a regular basis here in the state of Texas,” Perry said on Fox & Friends.  “I’m working my day job right now, and I’ll be really honest with you, I’m not paying attention to what the critics may say.  I’m more interested in these people out here.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep062011

Rick Perry Heads Back to Texas; Focused on Fires, Not Politics

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BASTROP, Texas) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry decided to forego politics on Monday when he flew from South Carolina to Texas to focus on the raging wildfires scorching thousands of acres across the Lone Star State.

“I’ll be real honest with you.  I’m not paying any attention to politics right now.  There’s plenty of time to take care of that.  People’s lives and their possessions are in danger.  That’s substantially more important,” Perry said to a round of applause at a press conference in Bastrop, Texas, Monday afternoon.

Perry canceled his afternoon events in South Carolina Monday and California Tuesday to deal with what he described as “mean looking” fires which spread across Texas in the past week.  The wildfires have affected approximately 32,000 acres of land and destroyed at least 476 homes.

The Texas governor urged residents to be cautious and listen to evacuation orders in their area.
"You just don't understand how quickly this can get out hand, and put people's lives and their property in jeopardy," Perry warned.

Perry expects FEMA will arrive in Texas on Wednesday, but in the meantime, he pressed residents to lend a hand to neighbors who are suffering from the fires.

“Find out what you can do to help your neighbor,” Perry said.  “There’s a lot that Texans will do to take care of Texans over the course of the next 72 hours and I really appreciate you for doing that.  We will pick up the pieces.  We always do.  Whether it’s a hurricane of monstrous size, or whether it’s floods, or whether it’s wildfires.  We will pick up the pieces.  We will rebuild.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep052011

Rick Perry To Skip DeMint's Labor Day Forum In South Carolina

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(COLUMBIA, S.C) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry has cancelled his planned appearance at a Labor Day forum in Columbia, S.C. Monday in order to return to Texas to deal with the wildfires there, a spokeswoman for Perry told ABC News.

Perry is speaking across the state in Conway, S.C. at another event Monday put on by Rep. Tim Scott, R-S.C.

The governor was scheduled to speak in Columbia later in the day along with rivals Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Herman Cain at the Palmetto Freedom Forum organized by the American Principles Project and Sen. Jim DeMint.

Perry’s events in California Tuesday are also cancelled due to the fire, a spokesman told ABC News.  At this time, he is still planning on attending the debate in Simi Valley, California on Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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