State Rep. Dawnna Dukes confirmed to the Texas Tribune in an email Monday that she is not resigning from her post with House District 46, just two days after blindsiding supporters and fellow lawmakers with her reverse decision.
Dukes, an Austin Democrat, announced in September that she would retire from office on Jan. 10, the first day of the legislative session, after more than 20 years in the Texas House. She cited ongoing health issues and concerns over caring for her 9-year-old daughter but it came while the Travis County District Attorney office was conducting a criminal investigation over her alleged misuse of staff and government funds.
On Saturday, just days after her own spokesperson confirmed to the Tribune that her resignation would go forward, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Duke had told the new Travis County District Attorney, Margaret Moore, that she had changed her mind about retiring. The decision came as a surprise to candidates intending to vie for her seat after she resigned.
On Friday, Bill Miller a spokesman for Dukes, confirmed to the Tribune that Dukes still planned to resign on Tuesday. “She won’t be answering questions prior to that date,” he wrote in an email to the Tribune.
Asked Saturday about the report Dukes wouldn’t resign after all, Miller told the Tribune that he had breakfast with [Travis County DA Margaret] Moore last week and “presumably, it would be a topic of conversation between us if Dukes told her she would not resign.”
“I know what I was told long ago and no one has told me otherwise. [Dukes] is going to do whatever she is going to do,” Miller wrote in an email.
Bet the next staff meeting is a bit awkward. The Statesman reported on this over the weekend, and it gets even weirder.
It wasn’t clear Saturday whether Dukes’ health had improved or why she had reversed course. She has kept a low profile since news broke of possible ethics violations nearly a year ago, and has not responded to repeated requests for comment from the Statesman over the past several months. She did not immediately respond when contacted on Saturday.
Dukes’ decision did not come on the advice of Fort Worth defense attorney Michael Heiskell, who had been representing her.
“That was not my advice to her,” said Heiskill, who said Dukes had not consulted with him before reversing her decision to step down.
Is he still her attorney?
“Apparently not,” Heiskill said.
Heiskill said he had been contacted earlier in the week by Houston attorney Dane Ball who said he was looking into the matter at Dukes’ request.
Heiskill said it had been his hope that if Dukes had stepped down, the Travis County district attorney would not have sought an indictment.
“But all that’s been scuttled now if what I am hearing is true,” Heiskill said.
Well, maybe the DA will force the matter. Regardless, I look forward to supporting someone in the 2018 primary against Dukes. The Austin Chronicle has more.