Key Texas Senate leaders, concerned that the investigation into the TYC scandal could unearth evidence that Rick Perry’s office failed to intervene in a timely fashion, negotiated a deal two weeks ago that Perry ally Jay Kimbrough step aside and permit the Texas Rangers to take the lead in the TYC investigation.
Since then, however, the governor’s office has pressed ahead with Kimbrough’s status as a special master or conservator.
Back room negotiations were held after Eliot Shapleigh indicated Kimbrough would face tough questioning if he appeared before the Senate Nominations committee for confirmation.
Shapleigh said he did not believe the governor had legal authority to name a special master and, therefore, evidence collected by Kimbrough might be tainted. Secondly, he expressed concern that Kimbrough could not aggressively and independently pursue allegations that the governor’s and attorney general’s offices dropped the ball on the TYC scandal.
According to Shapleigh and Sen. John Whitmire, Kimbrough acknowledged he was on Attorney General Greg Abbott’s staff when it learned of the stalled efforts of the Texas Rangers to prosecute TYC administrators for sexual abuse of teen inmates.
“In that room, there was an understanding. The agreement was the Texas Rangers would be the go-forward agency,” said Shapleigh. “I don’t know what happened next.”
Whitmire confirmed the account. “Since Jay was conflicted out, the consensus was to go with the Texas Rangers,” Whitmire confirmed. “I haven’t heard another word since then.”
During the discussions, Shapleigh said Kimbrough acknowledged there was an email to the AG’s office in early 2005 detailing evidence of sex abuse. “I said, ‘as this thing unfolds, someone may ask why in the hell didn’t you do anything?’ You just admitted you knew about this in 2005. You can’t investigate yourself,” Shapleigh said he told Kimbrough. “You may well be hiding official misconduct. You can be charged with nonfeasance if you have an official duty and do nothing. It’s a legitimate question to ask.”
Shapleigh also notes that Kimbrough held dual positions in Perry’s office and the AG’s office in spring of 2005.
Those in attendence agreeing to this policy were Shapleigh, Whitmire, Sens. Chris Harris, Juan Hinojosa and Bob Duncan, as well as Kimbrough and another member of the governor’s staff. The meeting was held in the lieutenant governor’s conference room.