POLITICS: Campaigns

Wendy Davis included in FBI investigation of North Texas Tollway Authority

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,FBI,Texas,2014 Elections,Campaigns,Ashe Schow,Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis' legal work for the North Texas Tollway Authority is part of an FBI investigation into the agency, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Davis came under fire last week when it was revealed by the daily that, as state senator, Davis voted on bills that benefited her clients, despite promising she wouldn't.

“Records show Davis supported legislation governing a toll-road project for which the North Texas Tollway Authority hired her firm,” the Morning News said. “She backed changes governing the collection of unpaid tolls that preceded an NTTA program in which law firms — including Davis’ — were chosen to carry out the collections. And as a state senator, she sought federal money for a transportation project being handled by her law firm.”

The newspaper noted that it was not clear whether Davis was the focus of the FBI investigation or part of a larger investigation.

Davis claimed her legal work for the NTTA posed no conflicts of interest.

But again, “during the 2011 legislative session, Davis was billing the tollway authority for condemnation work on one project the same day she was voting for toll-collection legislation backed by the NTTA.”

Because of Texas’ lax ethics rules, Davis’ apparent conflicts of interest may not have been illegal. The state constitution only prohibits lawmakers from voting on bills that affect their personal business — not laws that affect an entire industry, even if their business is part of that industry.

Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas told the Morning News that the campaign was “not aware that Wendy Davis is the subject or target of any investigation.”

A spokesman for Davis’ rival in the gubernatorial race, Republican Greg Abbott, issued a press release following the news, urging Davis to cooperate with the investigation

“Sen. Davis must fully disclose the facts about any wrongdoing and the extent of her involvement in that wrongdoing,” Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch said. “Texans deserve to know the truth about Sen. Davis' involvement in a matter the FBI is investigating.”

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