In the past week it has become alarmingly clear that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has little if any consideration for the law when it comes to personal matters. The Texas Tribune reports on thirteen-minute phone call between Dewhurst and Sargent Maness of Allen Police Department in which Dewhurst attempts to sidestep a “miscarriage of justice” and get his step-sister’s daughter-in-law, Ellen Bevers, out of jail.
He begins by asking for the “most senior officer available” and qualifies his inquiry by stating his name and title as the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. He is then transferred to Sargent Maness. He assures Maness that Bevers was arrested on a “mistaken charge”.
It becomes clear that the issue at hand is an “unscanned” bag of groceries from Kroger totaling fifty-seven dollars. She was charged with a Class B Misdemeanor for theft between 50 and 500 dollars. Dewhurst assured law enforcement that he has “known this woman for thirty years” and she is “the sweetest woman in the world”.
Dewhurst asked Maness to “explain to me what I need to do to arrange for getting her out of jail this evening” because he knew “in my heart was not involved” in the intentional act of stealing”.
Dewhurst’s attempts to circumvent legal protocol and use his title to influence the legal process are examples of a disregard for the legitimacy of the judicial process. He claimed this was all a matter of “unfortunate circumstances”, but how often has he quickly dismissed the same argument. Politicians like Dewhurst claim to abide by an ethical standard that more often than not, is disregarded when it comes to personal matters.
The issue of hypocrisy in politics is nothing new, but the blatant attempt by Dewhurst is all the more insulting. Repeatedly stressing his title and rapport with law enforcement, Dewhurst badgers Maness for phones numbers and contact information. He seems to have no qualms when it comes to seeing “what can be done to prevent this very nice lady, through a miscarriage of justice, from spending the night in jail.”
Supporters of Dewhurst stress that he emphasized his desire to let law enforcement deal with the matter in the appropriate manner. While Dewhurst did say he wanted to conduct everything the legal way, he attempted to influence the legal process. The audacity to place the call is what should be discussed. It appears we live in a political climate that allows politicians to think they can manipulate the law with little or no consequences. In fact, though Dewhurst has received scathingly comments from both sides, he claims his statements were in no way an attempt to circumvent the law.
The issue was quickly picked up by Dewhurst’s opponents, who will no doubt exploit the issue in the upcoming Republican primary. Already, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has put out an Anchorman-themed Tweet on the subject, saying “Dew’s call to Allen PD sounds like Anchorman Ron Burgundy: ‘I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me.’”