Quote of the Day
“It’s going to be available for delegates to debate and vote on Friday during the convention. This is pretty big. This is really pretty huge.”
—Tanya Robertson, a GOP official with the State Republican Executive committee, to the Houston Chronicle. What’s the “big” news? Delegates at the state GOP convention will actually have the chance to vote on secession. Robertson is probably overstating things a bit, considering there’s absolutely no chance the vote will pass. But the fact that the movement even got this far is at least a little surprising.
Fire Starter—After a three year investigation, officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives announced on Wednesday that the cause of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people began with a fire caused by arson. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, investigators interviewed more than 400 people and even re-enacted the fire in a research lab in Maryland, creating a life-size replica of the fertilizer plant’s seed room, where they determined the fire began. The investigation cost more than $2 million. The conclusion that the explosion started with a criminal act is somewhat surprising and extremely disturbing for a number of reasons. First, it’s unclear if law enforcement officials have identified any possible suspects (they declined to comment on that), but, presumably, the person who did this is still out there. The ATF is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. It’s also hard to come to grips with the fact that someone in this small town of about 3,000 may be responsible for 15 deaths and devastating destruction—the explosion razed or damaged buildings within a quarter-mile radius of the blast. Officials say they still haven’t narrowed down a motive.
Hard Time–The so-called “Affluenza Kid” is officially heading to jail for two years. A Fort Worth judge dismissed Ethan Couch’s appeal on Wednesday after the judge ruled in April to add 720 days to Couch’s probation sentence, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Couch, 19, killed four people in a drunk driving crash in 2013. His attorneys argued in court that he was too rich to know better, and the “Affluenza” moniker stuck long after he pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to ten years probation. Couch fled to Mexico with his mother in December and was caught about a month later. The judge’s decision should keep Couch behind bars for the next two years—four consecutive terms of 180 days, one term for each victim Couch killed. An attorney for the family of one of the crash victims told the Star-Telegram that the family was pleased with the judge’s strict ruling, but said it’s just “a temporary end,” considering Couch will get out of jail and still have seven years of probation left. According to the Star-Telegram, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving called the judge’s decision “a small victory.”
Walking Ted—More than a week after he pulled the plug on his ill-fated presidential campaign, Ted Cruz is still fighting to have some sort of impact in the race. Zombie Ted’s latest plan has him haunting former arch-nemesis Donald Trump, putting his team to work ahead of state GOP conventions across the country, including Texas, in an apparent attempt to undermine Trump’s delegate hunt. According to Politico, Cruz has dispatched at least one paid advisor to Texas and is expected to deliver an address at the Texas convention, which starts on Thursday. He’s also kept his team active in other states holding conventions this week, “from Nebraska to Oklahoma to Nevada,” writes Politico. Only a few days earlier, Cruz hinted that he would be open to reviving his campaign, before walking back those statements. Cruz already intends to run for re-election in the Senate—according to the Texas Tribune, he filed paperwork yesterday to seek a second term in 2018, and he’s expected to run for the presidency again in 2020, so we’ll all still be talking Ted for the foreseeable future.