JUDICIAL BRIBERY SCANDAL
Jury convicts former South Texas DA of corruption
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A federal jury in South Texas has convicted a former district attorney on corruption charges.
Former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos (vee-yah-LOH'-bohs) was convicted Friday of racketeering, bribery, extortion and other charges. He was acquitted of 2 counts of extortion.
Villalobos was accused of paying $10,700 to state District Judge Abel Limas to participate in a scheme that unintentionally allowed a convicted murderer to escape. Villalobos was also accused of using his discretion in exchange for cash.
Limas pleaded guilty to racketeering and was 1 of the main witnesses for the government.
Villalobos is the highest-profile target to stand trial in an FBI investigation into legal corruption in Cameron County. He ran for Congress last year, losing in the Democratic primary.
Villalobos denied any wrongdoing.
Trustee opposes $20M payout to American Air CEO
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - The Justice Department says a proposed $20 million severance payment for the CEO of American Airlines is too big and should be rejected.
The proposed merger of US Airways Group Incorporated and American calls for American's current CEO Tom Horton to lose that job and become chairman. The Fort Worth-based airline has proposed severance pay of almost $20 million, along with lifetime flight benefits.
The objection filed Friday by the U.S. trustee's office says American's bankruptcy plan does not explain why he should get so much money. The objection says Horton's contract calls for him to get $6.4 million if he had left at the end of last year, and raises the question of why he should get so much more money now.
The case is in federal bankruptcy court in New York.
Perry opposed to part of Texas budget deal
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Governor Rick Perry is joining the ranks of lawmakers dissatisfied with parts of a Texas budget deal, adding another hang-up to an already tumultuous spending compromise.
Perry spokeswoman Alison Castle said Friday that Perry is opposed to taking $1.75 billion from the state's Rainy Day Fund to settle a debt owed to public schools. Lawmakers had postponed the classroom payment in 2011 as a trick to balance the budget.
An emergency spending bill signed by Perry in March used general revenue - the funds that pay for most state services and agencies - to settle the deferred payment.
Castle says Perry doesn't think it's "a good idea" to use rainy day dollars when the bill has already been paid.
Perry's opposition was first reported by The Texas Tribune.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-REGENTS
Senate confirms 3 Texas regents
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas Senate has confirmed 3 of Governor Rick Perry's appointments to the University of Texas System regents, positions that were being closely watched as lawmakers clashed with the board in recent months.
The board is the governing body for the nine-campus system. Perry re-appointed vice chairman Paul Foster of El Paso to a new six year term. The new appointees are Houston businessman Jeff Hildebrand and McAllen attorney Ernest Aliseda.
Lawmakers have criticized some current board members and Perry as trying to force out popular Austin campus president Bill Powers. The three appointees told lawmakers earlier this week they did not intend to try to fire Powers if they were confirmed.
Several lawmakers said they expect the regents to stand by their word before confirming them on 30-1 votes.
No lesson plans means no state review for CSCOPE
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The State Board of Education is scrapping its special panel to review a controversial curriculum system, after its creators agreed to stop offering lesson plans.
CSCOPE had helped teachers adhere to state educational requirements by offering Web-based lesson plans and exams.
But some conservatives claimed CSCOPE promoted anti-American values. That prompted the State Board of Education to create a committee to review CSCOPE's lesson plans, beginning with social studies.
CSCOPE's creators were working voluntarily with the committee. But amid continued complaints, they voted Friday to take down all online lesson plans effective August 31st.
Board of Education Chairwoman Barbara Cargill said Friday that makes the review "no longer necessary."
She said CSCOPE "has vividly shown what can happen with content when it is left unchecked and with limited parental access."
Report: Texas insurance commissioner stepping down
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman says she's steeping down as head of the state's insurance regulatory agency.
The Austin American Statesman reported Friday that Kitzman told her staff the previous day she was leaving her post.
The legislative session ends Monday and Kitzman can't continue past then because her appointment by Governor Rick Perry wasn't confirmed by the state Senate.
Perry appointed Kitzman in 2011, during the interim between legislative sessions held every two years. Her confirmation required a two-thirds Senate vote.
Kitzman was criticized by Democratic lawmakers, but also some Republicans.
Her critics claimed she was too close to the insurance industry - though some of their complaints could be traced to clashes in windstorm insurance cases between Kitzman and trial lawyers who are also major political donors.
Kuchar leads Colonial when 2nd round suspended
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Matt Kuchar was 10-under par on the 16th green when the second round of the Colonial was suspended Friday night because of an impending storm system in Fort Worth.
There were 18 groups still on the course, three still with eight holes to play, when play was stopped at 6:38 p.m. at the west side golf course. The second round at Hogan's Alley will be completed Saturday morning.
Kuchar had a one-stroke lead over Graham DeLaet, the Canadian who shot a 67 in a morning round completed before an 2-hour, 10-minute delay just after noon because of lightning.
First-round leader Ryan Palmer was still at 8 under after shooting even par on his 12 holes Friday.
Jordan Spieth, Steve Flesch and Josh Teater finished at 8 under. Flesch had a 64, and Spieth and Teater shot 67.
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