FBI Takes Wendy Davis Documents But Scope of Probe Unclear

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 05:02 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The FBI has control of documents related to Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis' work while she was an attorney for the North Texas Tollway Authority, but it's not certain whether the investigation is focusing on the Democratic lawmaker or if the items are just an overall part of the materials collected.

Davis, who is the Democratic nominee in the governor's race, has said her legal work posed no conflicts with her duties in the Senate, reports The Dallas Morning News, and her spokesman, Zac Petkanas said the federal agents have not questioned her.

The traffic authority disclosed in 2011 that the FBI was investigating possible conflicts of interest among its former and current board members, but Davis never served on the board.

Last month, the Travis County district attorney's office reported that it had reviewed a 2012 complaint filed by former state Rep. Mark Shelton that was filed about Davis' legal and political activities, and that the matter was now "the subject of an open investigation" by the FBI.

Shelton's complaints came as he was trying running against her for her Senate seat.

The FBI hasn't commented on the case, which is heating up as Davis campaigns for the governor's seat against Republican Greg Abbott, the state's attorney general.

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Davis' support from women is slipping, as she now trails her Republican opponent, Gregg Abbott, among those voters, says a new Public Policy Polling survey.

The poll found that 35 percent of women gave Abbott a favorable rating, while 27 percent handed him an unfavorable rating. In comparison, 46 percent of women gave Davis an unfavorable rating and only 32 percent delivered a favorable rating.

Overall, the survey showed Abbott leading Davis in the Texas race by 51 percent to 37 percent. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Davis became a rising Democratic star after her 13-hour filibuster against an abortion bill last summer. She has campaigned as a champion for women's health causes and equal pay.

Both candidates have emphasized ethics in the race, but Davis' work with the NTTA has come under a great deal of scrutiny, particularly her roles in condemning land and working on delinquent toll collections.

Davis had voted for a law to govern a toll-road project after the NTTA hired her and her firm to handle property condemnations for the project, The News reported last week. In addition, she backed unpaid toll collection methods that came before the NTTA hired her firm and others to handle the collection activities, and also sought federal money for a transportation project that her law firm was handled.

In total, Davis supported at least four bills related to highway toll collection and toll road construction projects in which her Fort Worth-based law firm was directly involved in toll collection or construction funding.

Greg Cox, who is in charge of the district attorney's office, admitted his office exchanged information with the FBI before closing its own investigation into the NTTA.

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