CAF files rival abuse of power criminal complaint in Texas

A conservative group has filed a criminal complaint against state Sen. John Whitmire, accusing him of coercion in an exchange of text messages with University of Houston President Renu Khator that was published in the Houston Chronicle.

In the Aug. 16 conversation, Whitmire told Khator he would "stop dead and pass leg (legislation)" unless she killed a plan to require freshmen to live on campus. Khator agreed to withdraw the proposal and asked Whitmire to forgive her.

The complaint, filed Aug. 29 with Travis County's Public Integrity Unit by the Conservative Action Fund, cites the exchange. The unit investigates claims against elected officials.

"Senator Whitmire directly attempted to influence — and did in fact influence — a public servant (the UH President) 'in a specific exercise of [her] official power,'" the complaint says. "He achieved such influence by means of 'coercion,' that is, by threatening to 'take...action as a public servant' in the Legislature if UH did not bow to his demand."

The complaint seems to be meant, in part at least, as a defense of Gov. Rick Perry, who was indicted last month on similar charges. Perry threatened to, and later did, veto funding for the Travis County-based Public Integrity Unit, if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down after being arrested for drunken driving.
 Source: Houston Chronicle
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