Prosecutors: Texas lawmaker spent $51K on online psychic
Sep. 21, 2017
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas lawmaker apparently spent more than $51,000 of her own money on an online psychic, showed up for work at the Capitol impaired by medication and hid a cellphone from investigators, prosecutors allege in a court filing this week.
Rep. Dawnna Dukes is due to face misdemeanor corruption charges at an Oct. 16 trial. She is accused of giving a taxpayer-funded raise to a legislative aide to cover gas money for shuttling her daughter back and forth from school.
The Travis County prosecutors' court filing this week is intended to inform Dukes' attorneys of allegations against her that will be asserted at trial. She's not facing charges pertaining to the allegations included in the filing.
"Under Texas law, the state is required to give notice to the defendant of any evidence, not arising from the same transaction as that on trial, that the state might attempt to introduce to prove motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident," District Attorney Margaret Moore said in a statement to the Austin American-Statesman .
Dukes' attorney, Dane Ball, declined to comment on the allegations.
The Travis County district attorney's office alleges in the filing that Dukes paid for the psychic from December 2014 to January 2016, totaling nearly $1,000 a week. She apparently used her own money for the payments; the court document doesn't indicate public funds were used. The district attorney's office didn't return a call Thursday seeking clarification.
Authorities contend she was noticeably impaired on one occasion while performing legislative duties at the Capitol. She showed up late to a House appropriations committee hearing on March 29 and at one point said, "I know I'm talking a lot. I'm full of morphine and will be headed out of here soon."
She's also accused of giving investigators a different cellphone from the one they were seeking when they served her with a search warrant. In addition, the filing says Dukes was absent for roll call 65 percent of the time during the 2017 legislative regular session, and 36 percent of the time in the special session.
Prosecutors still want to salvage a felony case against the lawmaker, the American-Statesman reported. The DA's office last week placed 13 felony charges against Dukes on hold after a legislative official gave conflicting information about reimbursement vouchers that Dukes is alleged to have falsified in 2013 and 2014 for days she did not travel to the Capitol.
Dukes previously had announced plans to resign, citing yearslong medical concerns. But she reneged in January and was sworn in for her 12th term.
Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com