AUSTIN – Travis County GOP chairman Matt Mackowiak released a statement today following the news that Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore has dropped 13 felony tampering with a governmental record charges and two misdemeanor abuse of official capacity charges against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin):
“Today’s news that District Attorney Moore is letting Rep. Dukes walk free without even going to trial after indictment for 15 very serious corruption charges is an embarrassment to Travis County and a monumental waste of taxpayer funds by two Democratic District Attorneys. Even with substantial evidence against Rep. Dukes, much of it dutifully generated by news media investigation, the Travis County District attorney's office couldn't even bring a single viable case to court after two years of costly legal maneuvering.
Prosecutors ultimately made the judgment that it served justice to reach an agreement with the presiding judge and the defense team to drop the charges and not proceed to trial. And while this investigation began before Mrs. Moore was sworn into office, under the disastrous tenure of her predecessor Rosemary Lehmberg, serious questions must now be answered:
1. Why did the Executive Director of the House Business Office give materially different testimony about reimbursement rules to the defense team after incriminating Dukes? Is this being investigated?
2. How is a penalty of a few thousand dollars sufficient restitution for misusing her office and forcing taxpayer-funded state Capitol staff to perform personal tasks on state time?
Rep. Dukes may be celebrating today, but taxpayers in House District 46 are surely not. Rep. Dukes cynically lied to the voters last fall, promising them that she would resign if she won another term. She has still not adequately explained why she has missed a very large number of House votes in the regular sessions of 2015 and 2017 when she lives mere minutes from the State Capitol. She has failed to represent her district.
This prosecution has been botched at every step, and now, after hundreds of hours were wasted and other criminal prosecutions were set aside while this one was pursued, it is time for District Attorney Moore to answer questions about why her office failed the taxpayers and the service of justice so horribly.
This sad episode underscores the wisdom of former Gov. Rick Perry's decision to remove state subsidies and effectively defund the DA's office public integrity unit in 2013. This is only the latest fiasco in a long history of ethics investigation bungling by the Travis County District Attorney’s office. The Texas Legislature wisely moved the Public Integrity Unit out of the Travis County District Attorney’s office, so this type of incompetence will never again embarrass Travis County taxpayers or our state.
Today was a terrible day for any Texan who wishes to see true corruption prosecuted.”
# # #