Dewhurst criticized for seeking relative’s release


TERRY WALLACE,Associated Press

DALLAS (AP) — Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called a suburban Dallas police sergeant personally to seek the release of a relative jailed as a shoplifting suspect, the police department said.

Dewhurst’s Aug. 3 telephone call to the Allen Police Department was recorded and released Wednesday by the department.

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In it, the Texas Republican is heard asking the desk sergeant what he needed to do to obtain the release of his nephew’s wife, who was arrested and charged with shoplifting from a Kroger supermarket that day.

“What I need to do is to arrange for getting her out of jail this evening,” he said. “And you can proceed with whatever you think is proper.”

Dewhurst described the woman as “the sweetest woman in the world.”

“Sergeant, you don’t know me, but every year I’m the No. 1 pick of all the law enforcement agencies in Texas. I’m the No. 1 pick, and I want you to do whatever is the proper thing,” he said.

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Dewhurst also asked for a judge’s cellphone number. He did not get it.

“This lady, I know in my heart, was not involved in the intentional walking out and stealing $57,” he said.

Dewhurst is not under investigation by the police department, said Sgt. Jon Felty, Allen police spokesman. He said such calls from relatives of persons booked into the city jail are common.

Such was the case with Dewhurst, said Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine.

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“David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures,” Considine said.

Still, the recorded call drew criticism from the Democratic Party and Dewhurst’s top Republican rival, state Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston.

“Once again, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has shown that he thinks he is beyond the rules and laws that govern regular Texans,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, in a statement. “His call to police shows a clear attempt to use his political position for influence, intimidation and preferential treatment.”

Patrick, who has announced that he will challenge Dewhurst in next year’s GOP primary, called Dewhurst’s call a “blatant abuse of power.”

“I was saddened and disappointed to hear today’s report that David Dewhurst attempted to use his power and influence to get a family member out of jail,” Patrick said in a statement. “The fact that David Dewhurst believes he and his family are above the law is the height of arrogance and recklessness.”

The release of the recording was first reported by KXAS-TV of Fort Worth and Dallas.