and he’s not making plans to run,” Bentsen spokesman Jack DeVore said of the study results. The survey was conducted by the National Journal and reported on in the Dallas Morning News. Phil Gramm is frequently mentioned as a Republican presidential candidate in 1996. EMULATING STENCHES notwithstanding, the Dallas Times-Herald has come to the defense of Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower. After it was revealed by the Austin American-Statesman that an FBI agent was looking into Hightower’s campaign contributions, Republican ag commissioner candidate Rick Perry said that “there’s been a powerful stench emulating from the Department of Agriculture for some time.” But the Times-Herald doesn’t smell it. Under a headline that read “FBI: Get off Hightower’s case,” Times-Herald editorial writers complained of an “overwhelming appearance of impropriety and politics in the behavior of the FBI regarding the office of Agriculture Commissioner in Texas. The facts of the case argue persuasively that the FBI has allowed itself to be used as a political hit man in the ag commissioner race.” To back up its claim, the Dallas daily cited a letter that Vernie Glasson, executive director of the Texas Farm Bureau, wrote to the Farm Bureau’s national lobbyist in Washington, asking for help in stirring up some kind of investigation of Hightower in time to affect voting in the March primary election. “In his letter, Mr. Glasson asked the lobbyist to prevail on the ‘ [Clayton] Yeutter-directed USDA’ to press for an investigation. Mr. Glasson even set the date Feb. 15 when he wanted the investigation to begin. Lo and behold, who should launch a major investigation of commissioner Hightower but the FBI itself and right on time in midFebruary. Just before the election. Mr. Glasson even named the newspaper to which he wanted news of the investigation to be leaked. It was. And they dutifully printed it.” Could be something of a stench emulating from the editorial offices of the Dallas Morning News, too, the newspaper to which the Times-Herald referred. AWARD-WINNING Austin American-Statesman reporter Denise Gamino continues to prove herself the state’s best writer on mental health and mental retardation issues. Her latest coup was a powerful story on a Lubbock woman with an IQ of 12, who was raped last spring while under the care of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation. The woman is now six months pregnant, and unable to understand that she is about to deliver a baby. Gamin reported that the agency failed to immediately report the assault to police and the woman’s family, failed to conduct an investigation, and failed to obtain an abortion, despite recommendations from state doctors that they do so. Fortunately, one of the readers affected by Gamino’s article was federal Judge Barefoot Sanders of Dallas, who oversees the TDMHMR, as a result of the 16-year-old class-action suit filed on behalf of MHMR clients. After seeing the story, Sanders immediately ordered the state to investigate and evaluate the woman’s care and report to the court on her condition; appoint a physician to care for her and report to the court every other week; provide the court with all state records pertaining to the woman over the past two years; and explain to Sanders why the rape and pregnancy were not reported to the court when, by the terms of a 1987 court order, such incidents are required to be reported. While the state intends to turn over the records, at press time, officials had not decided whether Kay Bailey Hutchison LOUIS DUBOSE to comply fully with Sanders’s order. The judge’s office confirms that without Gamino’s investigative work, the court would not have taken the action it did. WILL FORT WORTH lose yet another House Speaker? Republicans had high hopes for millionaire manufacturer Charles Gore to unseat House Speaker Gib Lewis. But it seems unlikely. Dr. Samuel Hamlett, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle, said that Lewis’s stature as speaker provides a big edge. How big? Tarrant Democratic Party Chairman Dennis Sheehan contends that Lewis is ahead by 20 points. LEWIS DIDN’T endear himself to Democrats when he endorsed three Fort Worth area Republicans. The Speaker’s support of Kent Grusendorf over Kay Taebel, and his endorsement of Kim Brimer of Arlington and Bill Carter of Fort Worth did not go unnoticed and Tarrant County Democrats are still rankled. But former House Speaker Billy Clayton offered up the pragmatist’s apologia for Gib. “If the House is to operate, you have to have a structure where you can put together coalitions of majority votes,” Clayton said. Clayton proved his own bipartisan credentials by switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican side a few years ago. Grusendorf is a conservative Republican who was very active on the wrong side with education funding in the past sessions. Pro-equity funding Democrats routinely referred to him as Darth Vader. Hardly anyone even refers to Kim Brimer, a large \(in physical his dapper dress and silver hair. Jack Carter is a journeymen representative who has been known to file a bill on occasion. REPUBLICANS Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry will be campaigning together, according to Alan Bernstein of the Houston Chronicle. Hutchison, who is running for state treasurer, faces Nikki Van Hightower while Perry, who is running for agriculture commissioner, faces incumbent Jim Hightower. Neither of the Republican candidates, according to Perry’s campaign manager Ken Luce, have much name recognition. According to Luce, hits scored against either of the will benefit both Hutchison and Perry. IN CLEBURNE, Republican dentist Bernard Erickson is facing a Tricks, Spies, and Videotape scandal. A woman linked to Erickson’s campaign was caught videotaping the opening of the campaign headquarters of Democratic Representative Bruce Gibson, when Gibson’s wife, Stephanie, walked across the street and demanded that the woman surrender the tape. Dave McNeely of the Austin American-Statesman described the affair as Videogate. By the time Erickson denied having anything to do with the taping, the Gibsons had already seen the tape and run it, by local reporters. The first image to appear on the video screen was the dentist’s shingle which read: Dr. Bernard Erickson, General Dentistry. According to John Harrison, publisher of the Cleburne Eagle-News, the tape contained the woman’s voice and the voice of Erickson explaining how to focus the videocamera. As plausible deniability became less plausible, Dr. Erickson stopped stonewalling and said: “There might have been somebody over there. I can’t say that I made anybody go anywhere. There wasn’t any snooping going on … There’s nothing wrong with anybody filming.” Dr. Erickson is reported to be drilling his staff on tighter campaign security. Harrison’s Eagle-News is a weekly, less than five years old, which has earned a reputation for breaking stories that the chainowned local daily won’t touch. Somehow, an investigative journal has filled a niche usually reserved for chamber-of-commerce ancillaries. They’ve done more than follow campaigns, and local government officials 14 OCTOBER 12, 1990
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.