Cobler: Accusations rock attorney general’s office

Staff Writer
Stephenville Empire-Tribune
Stephenville Empire-Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is battling back against seven top aides who accuse him of bribery and abuse of office.

The aides delivered the accusations in a letter to the agency’s human resources director. The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV obtained and first published the letter.

The Houston Chronicle and other media outlets reported that the allegations are tied to Paxton’s relationship with Nate Paul, an Austin real estate investor and campaign donor.

Congressman Chip Roy of Austin called on his fellow Republican to resign.

“Any grace for him to resolve differences and demonstrate if the allegations are false was eliminated by his choice instead to attack the very people entrusted, by him, to lead the office – some of whom I know well and whose character are beyond reproach,” Roy said.

Paxton’s spokeswoman said the former aides were trying to impede an ongoing criminal investigation into criminal wrongdoing by public officials, including employees of the AG’s office.

“Despite the effort by rogue employees and their false allegations, I will continue to seek justice in Texas and will not be resigning,” Paxton said in a statement.

Many bars get shot at reopening

Bars in most of Texas may reopen this week at 50 percent capacity under a new executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

In addition, other businesses may expand to 75 percent capacity. The expanded openings are permitted in regions where COVID-19 hospitalizations account for less than 15 percent of available hospital beds and with approval by the county judge.

Abbott praised Texans for following health protocols that include social distancing, wearing face masks and vigorous hand washing. He urged people to continue these practices to keep Texas moving forward.

“It is time to open up more, provided that safe protocols continue to be followed,” Abbott said. “If everyone continues the safe practices, Texas will be able to contain COVID, and we will be able to reopen 100%.”

In the state’s two biggest metropolitan areas, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, both Democrats, said the science didn’t support reopening bars yet.

“The data guiding county decision-making tells us we are doing much better than we were a few months ago, but we are still at the highest level: red. Indoor, maskless gatherings should not be taking place right now, and this applies to bars, as well,” Hidalgo said.

Waco native memorialized for heroism

Texas has more reason to be proud: Its native son is the first enlisted sailor and first African American to have a supercarrier named after him.

The story of Doris “Dorie” Miller’s heroic actions at Pearl Harbor will reach from his hometown of Waco to the shores of international waters. Most supercarriers are named for U.S. presidents, but Miller’s actions at the start of World War II continue to reverberate almost 80 years later.

Although the racism of the time limited Miller to serving only as a mess attendant aboard the battleship USS West Virginia, he jumped into action during the Japanese attack. He received the Navy Cross for moving his captain to safety, firing an anti-aircraft gun at the attacking bombers and pulling injured sailors out of the burning waters.

The Navy announced the decision on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The ship is estimated to cost $12.5 billion and set sail in 2032.

Lake Jackson gets OK after rare, deadly amoeba

Lake Jackson residents can drink their water again after a deadly brain-eating amoeba killed a 6-year-old boy.

Gov. Abbott issued a disaster declaration for Brazoria County after the death of Josiah McIntyre. Officials suspect he became infected while playing at a Lake Jackson splash pad or with a water hose at his home. The cause of death is a single-cell organism, Naegleria fowleri, which travels up the nose to the brain via the olfactory nerve.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, infections from the amoeba are rare, but most cases of the disease are fatal. During the past decade, 34 infections were reported in the United States.

State officials lifted the boil water notice last week after flushing the city’s water supply, testing environmental samples and providing free cases of water to residents.

Chris Cobler is a board member and past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. He welcomes email at ccobler@texaspress.com.