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After A Months-long Legal Battle, Rep. Dawnna Dukes Has Been Cleared Of All Charges

Travis County prosecutors’ months-long legal battle against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes drew its last breath Monday

Marjorie Kamys Cotera
Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, on the House floor Aug. 2, 2017.

What you need to know

Travis County prosecutors’ months-long legal battle against state Rep. Dawnna Dukes drew its last breath Monday. Here’s what you need to know:

• “Felony charges should not have been pursued, said Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore on Monday in announcing that her office was dropping its case against Dukes. At hand were allegations that the Austin Democrat had abused public office, stemming from claims Dukes had falsified entries on travel vouchers to get money for expenses she was not entitled to. A grand jury handed her 13 felony charges and two misdemeanor charges in January because of it — which had carried a possible punishment of up to 28 years in jail and fines of up to $138,000.

• Where the two sides left it: In addition to dropping the felony charges, Moore said her office agreed to drop the misdemeanors if Dukes repaid the state around $1,500 to reimburse a former staffer who had babysat the lawmaker’s daughter, plus a couple additional fines. In a statement, Moore also acknowledged that charges against Dukes would not have been filed had Texas House officials been clearer from the start about travel reimbursement policy.

• What does this mean for 2018? Dukes made clear in a Facebook post Monday night she is looking forward to running for a 13th term to House District 46 in 2018 — a race that has already drawn several hopefuls who had been banking on competing for a vacated seat. The Austin American-Statesman reports that at least four Democrats are still planning to challenge Dukes for the slot in 2018, including former Austin City Council member Sheryl Cole.

Now, your take

• In the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, 47 percent of Texas voters identify with the GOP, while 42 percent side with Democrats. Also, while voters think the country is headed in the wrong direction by a two-to-one margin, the outlook appears to be more optimistic when we’re talking about the state: 43 percent say Texas is on the right track, while 40 percent say it’s headed down the wrong path.

Do you think Texas is headed in the right or wrong direction? Tell us with #MyTexasTake on Twitter and Facebook.

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