The State of Texas: A Very Texas Sit-In
Plus: The Big 12 turns its eye on Baylor, Dez Bryant gets sued by a Texas senator, and the biggest Medicare fraud crackdown in history takes down a whole bunch of Texans.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We’ve had people come in and cry because they love sloths so much.”
—Deana Otis, owner of EarthWise Pet Supply in Flower Mound, to the Dallas Morning News. The pet store’s lovable mascot, Sandy the two-toed sloth, has apparently captured the hearts of staff and customers alike. It sounds like Sandy just kind of hangs around and does sloth stuff, such as sleeping for 13 hours a day and pooping twice a week (!). Nonetheless, Otis and co. claim Sandy has a unique personality and lives a rich and vibrant life. Be sure to check out the Morning News‘s video so you can see her inaction for yourself.
Have a Seat
Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives held a sit-in on the House Chamber for an unbelievable 19 hours (and counting!) starting Wednesday and stretching into Thursday, all in an effort to bring to the table a vote on expanding background checks for gun purchases. Texas Democrats played key roles in the event. According to the Dallas Morning News, seven Democratic reps from Texas took part in the sit-in: Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green from Houston; Beto O’Rourke from El Paso; Joaquin Castro from San Antonio; Lloyd Doggett from Austin; Marc Veasey from Fort Worth; and Eddie Bernie Johnson from Dallas. Jackson Lee, Castro, and Veasy gave “fiery speeches,” according to the Texas Tribune. When the GOP shut off the House-controlled cameras linked to C-SPAN, O’Rourke used his phone to help transmit live streaming video of the event to thousands of viewers, broadcasting for more than ten hours on his Facebook page and Snapchat and, eventually, even C-SPAN. Texas’s Democrats weren’t the only ones to make news during the historic sit-in. Republican Representative Louie Gohmert of Tyler got in a shouting match with a representative from Florida, and the confrontation became so heated that fellow Texas Republican Representative Bill Flores, from Bryan, had to physically hold him back. Gohmert repeatedly shouted “radical Islam killed these people,” referring to the Orlando mass shooting, but he was quickly drowned out by Democrats chanting “no bill, no break.” Still, there was no vote on gun control. The House was adjourned in the wee hours of the morning Thursday, and lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return until after July 4, so it’s unclear where the Democrats will go from here. But as recently as 4 a.m., more than a dozen Democrats were still on the floor, including Sheila Jackson Lee.
MEANWHILE, IN TEXAS
While Baylor continues to deal with the fallout of an independent report that slammed the school for “fundamental failure” in handling sexual assault allegations, particularly those made against members of the football team, the university now also has the Big 12 conference on its case. According to the Waco Tribune, the power conference has requested documents from all investigations into sexual assaults at Baylor, and also the full report on the school’s sexual assault scandal conducted by law firm Pepper Hamilton. While Baylor released a summary of the report’s findings, the actual, original report has not yet been released to the public. According to a statement from Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the conference’s board of directors is “gravely and deeply concerned” about what’s happening at Baylor, and a Big 12 spokesperson told the Tribune that the conference would consider taking “action” against Baylor if the university refused to fork over everything they’re requesting.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is being sued by Texas senator Royce West for allegedly throwing a house party so destructive that it left the home Bryant was renting from West “littered with trash and feces,” according to the lawsuit. West is seeking between $100,000 and $200,00 in damages. According to the Dallas Morning News, Bryant was paying $4,720 per month for the 6,400-square-foot mansion in DeSoto, which he rented from September 2013 until January of this year. According to the lawsuit, by the time Bryant left, there was “irreparable damage” to the floors, carpets, windows and shutters, and there was a “distinct and pervasive odors throughout” the house, which could have been from either the “animal feces” or garbage or both. West claims it cost him more than $60,000 to repair the trashed pad, and alleges Bryant refused to reimburse him. According to the Morning News, police were called to the house multiple times during Bryant’s stay there, and there were reportedly up to ten people living there at a time.
The Department of Justice charged 301 people on Wednesday, including 22 in Houston and 12 in Dallas, related to Medicare fraud in what the feds claim is the biggest such takedown of all time. The alleged crooks are accused of taking a total of $900 million through health care fraud. According to the Houston Chronicle, the defendants from Texas are accused of squeezing the system for more than $136 million. Among the Texans facing criminal or civil charges are clinic operators, CFOs, medical equipment store owners, hospital managers, nurses, and family practice physicians, according to the Chronicle. In Dallas, the owners of a senior ear care facility were charged with allegedly billing Medicare for ear care treatment supposedly done on elderly patients, “some of whom were unconscious,” according to the Dallas Morning News. The owners of the facility allegedly told staff that if a patient “gave an eye movement or made a sound,” they could “interpret that as consent and proceed with the exam, cleaning or ear-probe testing,” according to the indictment. The alleged scam netted the perps more than $5.1 million and probably a surplus of unwanted ear wax.
WHAT WE’RE READING
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre now has more career RBI than Mickey Mantle. Dallas Morning News
Police are still searching for the killer of a North Texas journalist. Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Donald Trump’s new evangelical advisor was once really sure God picked Ted Cruz to be president. Huffington Post
An anonymous donor paid to fix an old lady’s broken air conditioning in Tyler. KYTX
After a name change, two different law schools in Houston now sound almost exactly the same. The Daily Cougar