Greg Abbott can't let this one go. The Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate is raising questions again over Democratic opponent (and party darling) Wendy Davis' memoir.
Abbott's campaign manager Wayne Hamilton filed a formal complaint Thursday with the Texas Ethics Commission alleging that Davis, as a state senator, "converted political contributions to her personal use" and therefore violated state law. The Abbott camp highlights Davis' trip to New York this week as evidence her campaign used money for her book tour, and that because book sales will profit her personally, it's an unlawful use of campaign funds.
"Sen. Davis' book promotion has gone from ethically questionable to outright unlawful," Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch told The Houston Chronicle. "From her history of profiteering at the expense of Texas taxpayers while in the Legislature to using campaign funds to promote a book that enriches her personally, Sen. Davis has demonstrated blatant disregard for the ethical standards Texans expect from their candidates."
Davis' camp says the complaint is unfounded, and is simply another attempt to use Davis' memoir, Forgetting to Be Afraid, against her campaign.
"One way you can tell this is a politically motivated and frivolous complaint is that the Abbott campaign filed it today without waiting for the legal opinion they requested on Monday," Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas told Dallas News, pointing out the Abbott camp's earlier legal question. "These kinds of attempts to silence Wendy Davis have failed in the past and only show how worried Greg Abbott is about the power of her story."
Indeed, writing a memoir and subsequently promoting it is nothing new for politicians on the campaign trail. Gov. Rick Perry did it in 2010 with Fed Up!, though his earnings went to charity. Hillary Clinton is doing it with Hard Choices, though she hasn't officially announced her campaign. And legal experts told Dallas News that as long as the book tour is promoting the candidate, the complaint won't have any ground to move forward.
Of course, Davis won't escape scrutiny that easy for her national tour and media presence.
Political analysts have said the book is a thinly veiled political stunt, and the timing of the release is later than expected. "The book signings may not be political, but when you're running a statewide race like she is, it's political," University of Texas-Pan American political scientist Jerry Polinard told The Houston Chronicle. "All the people at those events know she's running, and they're not there because she's just an author."
But, as Houston Press' Dianna Wray points out in an opinion piece, Abbott shouldn't be this worried in the first place. "Davis has been trailing Abbott in double digits in the polls for ages," she writes. "Davis's camp insists that they have taken care of things so that her book promotion is entirely within the confines of the rules... If someone just happens to decide to vote for her based on some charming, ahem, book promotion appearance, well that's just a little bonus."