Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, occupant of the second most powerful post in the state’s government, took time out of his presumably busy day earlier this month to attempt to spring a relative from jail for a minor offense.
The relative, Ellen Bevers, is an elementary school teacher in Allen, amid the suburban sprawl of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. She was arrested and jailed for allegedly shoplifting at a Kroger supermarket on Aug. 3, reports NBC DFW.
The Republican lieutenant governor made the call that day. An audio recording of the call was obtained by an NBC affiliate under a state open records request.
Police said Dewhurst naturally asked for the “most senior police officer you have there right now” after calling the main Allen police phone number. Instead, he got the on-duty sergeant.
“Sergeant, you don’t know me, but every year I’m the No.1 pick of all the law enforcement agencies in Texas,” Dewhurst said on tape.
“What I would like to do, if you would explain it to me, sergeant, what I need to do is to arrange for getting her out of jail this evening and you can proceed with whatever you…think is proper,” the Lt. Governor said to police.
According to The Texas Tribune, Dewhurst also tried to find out the names of people — presumably bail bondsmen — he could contact to post bond for Bevers.
Dewhurst said he has known Bevers for three decades.
“This lady, I know in my heart, was not involved, in the intentional walking out and stealing $57,” Dewhurst swore to the cops.
Dewhurst can also be heard requesting cellphone numbers for a judge and the county sheriff. The sheriff rejected the request.
In the actual call, Dewhurst referred to Bevers as his sister-in-law. Later, police indicated that she is the wife of Dewhurst’s nephew. On Wednesday, Dewhurst called the schoolteacher his niece in a brief statement.
“David acted as a concerned family member in an attempt to acquire information on how to post bail for his niece while reiterating multiple times in the full conversation that law enforcement follow their normal protocols and procedures,” that statement, from Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine, also said.
A police spokesman told NBC DFW that worried relatives call all the time with questions whenever someone ends up in jail. He said Dewhurst faces no investigation whatsoever for the phone call.
It’s not clear if bail had been set for Bevers, or why the powerful, long-serving politician didn’t seek the services of a local attorney to secure freedom for his distressed relative.
It’s also not clear exactly what Bevers is alleged to have stolen.
Dewhurst is a candidate for a fourth term as lieutenant governor. He faces opposition in the March 4, 2014 Republican primary.
Dewhurst’s Republican rivals — and his Democratic ones — were quick to attack.
“Our political leaders are not above the rest of Texans, nor should they expect to be treated so,” said Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa.
“The fact that David Dewhurst believes he and his family are above the law is the height of arrogance and recklessness,” said Republican state senator Dan Patrick, according to The Tribune. “This blatant abuse of power would be stunning coming from any elected official. However, it is particularly disturbing coming from the lieutenant governor of Texas.”
Patrick is one of Dewhurst’s primary challengers.
Another Republican, Todd Staples, compared Dewhurst’s shenanigans to something Ron Burgundy might do.
“Dew’s call to Allen PD sounds like Anchorman Ron Burgundy: ‘I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me,'” Staples tweeted.
Staples also extolled the sergeant who took Dewhurst’s call because the sergeant “didn’t bow to political pressure,” notes NBC DFW.