There’s a lot of ink and bytes being spilled over Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of the funding for the Public Integrity Unit (PIU). Some are shocked and others thinks it’s unfair. But it’s neither. It’s what the Texas GOP and Perry have been doing since they took complete control of our state government. They exploit any and every opportunity, no matter how shocking and unfair the Texas village may think it is.
The Public Integrity Unit has work to do only because it’s in Austin, the seat of state government. Legal tangles involving state officials, many of them ethics cases, are filed there.
The unit is investigating millions of dollars in grants given by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas without proper vetting to entities run by closely connected individuals.
In 2010, the unit’s work led to the conviction of former House Speaker Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, on money-laundering charges. DeLay is appealing the case.
And the 30 people whose jobs Gov. Perry has vetoed and the important work they are doing.
The PIU is currently investigating more than 400 cases, including one involving the alleged misuse of $56 million intended for cancer research that is suspected of going into companies with investors who support Gov. Perry.
The unit employs 35 people, including 10 assistant district attorneys, seven investigators, and six forensic accountants.
Kuff has a breakdown of what will be tried to keep the PIU up and running. And Perry still looks like a shoo-in to win his parties nomination for another term. None of this is to excuse what Rosemary Lehmberg did. But it’s certainly a convenient excuse to wipe our an agency our elected officials, of both parties, have never liked.
[UPDATE]: Lehmberg’s response via QR:
“The Governor’s veto removed the funding for the Public Integrity Unit, but the responsibility for these cases remains with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office.”