Posted: May 23, 2012 4:18 PM
Updated: May 23, 2012 4:18 PM
Dewhurst, Cruz make late loans to Senate campaigns
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Two key Republican contenders for a U.S. Senate seat have used their own money to boost their campaigns in the final days before the Texas primary.
Federal election records show Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst lent his campaign nearly $1.2 million the day early voting began on May 14th.
Four days later, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz lent $400,000 to his campaign after contributing just $70,000 in personal funds previously.
Dewhurst's latest cash infusion means he's spent about $9.2 million from his own pocket.
Other GOP hopefuls seeking the seat of retiring U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison in Tuesday's primary are ex-Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and former football star and ESPN commentator Craig James.
Leppert has loaned his campaign about $3.6 million, but hasn't increased that total lately.
Crowded field seeks US House seat for South Texas
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Eight Democrats and three Republicans are vying for a new U.S. House seat anchored in Brownsville.
They include a district attorney facing federal fraud charges and an ex-prosecutor who once indicted Dick Cheney.
If no candidate wins a majority of the votes for their party's nomination during the May 29th primary, a runoff will be held July 31st.
Brownsville Democratic District Attorney Armando Villalobos was indicted on May 8th.
Meanwhile, perceived Democratic front-runner Filemon Vela is an attorney who some Republicans claim mulled seeking the GOP nomination.
Another Democrat, Juan Angel Guerra indicted the then-vice president in 2008, alleging responsibility for prisoner abuse in a Texas federal detention center.
With no reliable polling, it's hard to tell if one of them or the eight other congressional hopefuls might emerge.
DRUG WAR-MEXICAN POLITICIAN
Lawyer: Former Mexican governor denies allegations
McALLEN, Texas (AP) A lawyer for the former governor of a Mexican state whom U.S. prosecutors accuse of investing millions of dollars of drug cartel bribes in Texas real estate says his client is innocent of the allegations.
No criminal charges have been filed against Tomas Yarrington, who served as governor of Tamaulipas state from 1999 to 2004. Civil actions were filed Tuesday seeking to seize a condominium in South Padre Island and a 46-acre property in San Antonio that the government says were bought with drug money.
Lawyer Joel Androphy told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Yarrington has no connection to the properties and suggested that other targets of federal investigations have implicated the ex-governor to improve their own situations.
MACHINE GUN CONVICTION
Machine gun possession conviction for biker
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) A 59-year-old Texas man faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine following his conviction on charges he possessed an illegal machine gun.
Benjamin Neuner, known as "Rebel Rider Ben" was convicted Tuesday by a federal court jury in Fort Worth.
Federal prosecutors say Neuner converted two rifles into machine guns and delivered them to an undercover FBI agent.
Neuner, identified as a member of the Rebel Riders Motorcycle Club, contended he was entrapped by a rival Bandido motorcycle gang member.
Neuner remains in custody awaiting sentencing set for August 31st.
Gas prices fall by nickel this week across Texas
HOUSTON (AP) Retail gasoline prices across Texas continue their slide and are down another nickel a gallon this week to average $3.51.
Triple-A Texas reports Wednesday that's 17 cents a gallon below the nationwide average of $3.68, down from $3.72 a week ago.
The travel association survey finds Amarillo has the least expensive unleaded fuel in Texas, at $3.41 per gallon. El Paso is the highest at $3.65.
A year ago, the state average was $3.75 and national average $3.84.
Texas company admits oil spills in La bayous
NEW ORLEANS (AP) The U.S. Justice Department says a Texas-based independent oil company has admitted that its negligence caused three oil spills in Jefferson Parish bayous. It says Cedyco Corporation of Houston has agreed to pay a $557,000 fine and stop operating in Louisiana.
A news release Wednesday said Cedyco pleaded guilty in federal court in New Orleans to illegal discharges of oil.
It says the misdemeanor plea is based on spills in 2008 at three facilities: a tank battery south of the Barataria Waterway on Bayou St. Denis; an oil storage and production platform near the Plaquemines Parish line on Bayou Dupont; and a well near that platform.
According to the department, Cedyco's facilities were generally poorly maintained and operated without plans and permits required by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
2 who held 115 illegal immigrants plead guilty
McALLEN, Texas (AP) Two men who held 115 illegal immigrants in several South Texas homes have pleaded guilty to conspiring to harbor illegal immigrants.
Mexican nationals Vicente Ortiz Soto and Marcial Salas Gardunio admitted to the charge Wednesday in federal court in McAllen.
A 911 call from someone locked in one of the Edinburg homes earlier this month alerted authorities. The immigrants were being held in the stash house until continuing on the rest of their journey north. Immigrants told authorities that Salas greeted them upon their arrival at the houses saying "Welcome to hell." Salas had told investigators Ortiz paid him $500 per week to smuggle illegal aliens.
The two 23-year-olds could face up to 10 years in prison at their sentencing scheduled for July 30th.
Mom of deported teen runaway files federal lawsuit
HOUSTON (AP) A lawsuit filed by a Texas mother who alleges her teenage runaway daughter was illegally deported to South America by U.S. immigration authorities reveals for the first time that the girl became pregnant while living abroad.
The suit, filed Tuesday in Houston federal court by Johnisa Turner on behalf of her daughter, is asking for $15 million in damages.
In April 2011, Turner's then-14-year-old daughter was arrested for shoplifting and identified herself to authorities as a 21-year-old Colombian national. Authorities deported the teen. She was returned to the U.S. in January.
The suit says that while in Colombia, the teenager became pregnant by a 29-year-old man. She was 15 at the time.
Federal officials have said they followed procedures and the girl did nothing to indicate she is U.S. citizen.
Judge: Condemned woman should have verdict nixed
DALLAS (AP) The judge in the case of a Central Texas woman condemned in the death of an infant she was baby-sitting now wants her conviction vacated.
Cathy Henderson was convicted in 1995 of killing 3-month-old Brandon Baugh. The 55-year-old Henderson is one of nine women on Texas' death row.
Henderson contended Brandon died accidentally when she dropped him. Dr. Roberto Bayardo, then the chief medical examiner in Travis County, disputed that contention. He testified the boy's injuries could only have been caused by a fatal blow.
Bayardo changed his mind later, however, and now says he can no longer be sure Brandon's death was intentional.
In findings issued this month, state District Judge Jon Wisser says no reasonable juror would convict her in light of that change.
Texas agency seeks to decrease industrial flaring
HOUSTON (AP) A Texas agency is launching an initiative designed to reduce industrial flaring, a major source of air pollution.
David Porter, a commissioner with the Texas Railroad Commission, says in a statement Wednesday the goal is to ensure that current rules are being followed. The agency also wants regulations to keep up with the oil and gas drilling boom set off by new technologies that allow companies to extract once out-of-reach minerals.
Industries use "flaring" to burn off excess gases. This helps prevent a buildup that could cause an explosion, but also pollutes the air. Newer technologies allow industry to either reuse the gases or divert them elsewhere without burning them off.
Consultants recommend reuse for Astrodome
HOUSTON (AP) A team of consultants is recommending that the Astrodome be turned into a multi-purpose facility that could host sporting events and massive exhibitions, while also preserving the iconic structure's outer shell.
The $270 million option was one of four considered by consultants led by Dallas-based CSL. The other options included leaving the vacant stadium alone, demolishing it and building an outdoor plaza, or building a massive "renaissance" complex.
In a presentation to Harris County's sports and convention wing, the consultants said the multipurpose option could turn Houston into a popular destination for special events and national trade shows.
The recommendation now goes to the Harris County commissioners, who can take up the matter at their next capital projects meeting in June.