Political opponents claim Lt. Governor David Dewhurst was abusing his office when he tried to gain release of a relative jailed in Allen, but Allen police disagree.
The audiotape of Dewhurst’s 12-minute phone conversation with officers was made available to the public Wednesday, and it’s created a political storm that may follow Dewhurst to the ballot box as he campaigns for reelection.
On the August 3 recording Dewhurst identifies himself numerous times as a top political official.
He began the conversation by saying, “This is David Dewhurst and I want to talk to the senior officer who is there right now.”
Dewhurst explained that his nephew’s wife had been arrested for shoplifting groceries but he believed she was innocent. He wanted to know what he needed to do to gain her release.
At one point he asked for the cell phone number of a judge who might be arraigning the woman later that day. He also told an officer said the director of the Department of Public Safety would be calling on his behalf.
“I’m going to have Steve McCraw who is director of the DPS call you by name in about 10 minutes,” he said.
Allen police Sgt. Jon Felty says that neither McCraw nor any other public official called on Dewhurst’s behalf and that Dewhurst broke no law.
Felty says officers handled the call like any other even though they knew they were talking to a powerful elected official.
“After all he is David Dewhurst. He is the lieutenant governor. He can’t change that,” Felty said.
“He did do some name dropping. But I think he was just trying to establish credibility that he was indeed David Dewhurst and not someone else trying to be a prankster,” Felty added.
Dewhurst’s political opponents were not as generous.
Dewhurst is running for reelection. Republican challenger Sen. Dan Patrick from Houston accused Dewhurst of blatantly abusing his power.
The state’s Democratic Party chairman said “political leaders are not above the law” and Dewhurst had disrespected his public office.
A spokesman for Dewhurst’s campaign says the lieutenant govern was just acting as a concerned family member and not asking for special treatment.
Police say Dewhurst’s relative is being charged with a Class B misdemeanor for allegedly walking out of a grocery store with more than $50 worth of items she didn’t pay for.