Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing another potential scandal after only days after his border stunt caused massive disruption of the Texas economy.
According to a New York Times report, "Crime Stoppers of Houston has been blasting out a different, more political message: Activist judges are letting 'dangerous criminals' out of jail to threaten the safety of law-abiding residents. On television, Twitter and videos, the traditionally nonpartisan nonprofit organization has been condemning more than a dozen elected judges — all Democrats, four of whom lost primaries last month — while praising the crime policies of Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, a Republican."
The newspaper conducted an investigation of the organization's financial interests in conjunction with The Marshall Project.
"Financial documents and government records, along with dozens of interviews, show that the organization, with an annual budget of about $2.4 million, has in recent years become reliant on state grants backed by Mr. Abbott. Those grants included $4 million in 2017 that was never publicized by Mr. Abbott or Crime Stoppers, which had previously trumpeted smaller donations from other government entities. In the past five years, the Texas government under Mr. Abbott has given the group more than $6 million, state records show," the newspaper reported.
And there appears to be a direct conflict of interest with judges the organization is attacking.
"Many of the Democratic judges Crime Stoppers is slamming have cut into the organization’s revenue by curbing a common practice requiring many people sentenced to probation to pay a $50 fee that goes to Crime Stoppers. The nonprofit’s revenue from those fees has fallen by half since Democrats swept the county’s judicial races in 2018," the newspaper reported.
The newspaper noted two big takeaways from the investigation.
"The evolution of Crime Stoppers of Houston underscores the potential conflicts of interest that can arise when charities become dependent on financial support from politicians. And it illustrates how nonprofit organizations technically barred from participating in political campaigns can nonetheless exert outsize influence, especially when they wade into a potent issue like violent crime," the newspaper reported.
The organization was also investigated by the Houston Chronicle.
"In recent weeks its CEO warned Houstonians at a local Republicans lunch club about out-of-control crime. Its victims’ assistance director blasted a local judge on television. Its staff trained METRO police officers," the newspaper reported. "Detractors argue the organization has strayed from its core mission and criticize CEO Rania Mankarious for using the nonprofit as a personal launchpad. And as homicides have risen across the city, judges and criminal justice reform advocates say Crime Stoppers has taken a partisan turn and is engaging in misleading conversations about crime across the city."
On Twitter, Mankarious described the reporting of the group's partisanship and conflicts of interest as a "coordinate attack" while retweeting local Republican Tom Ramsey. She vowed nothing will change at Houston Crime Stoppers.
"As for us? We will only keep going," she said.
Thanks Commissioner @TomSRamsey2 We knew a coordinate attack has been in the works. When you\u2019re committed to public safety, you\u2019re sure to infuriate those who are not. As for us? We will only keep going. #standingforpublicsafetyhttps://twitter.com/tomsramsey2/status/1517218772456726530\u00a0\u2026— Rania Mankarious (@Rania Mankarious) 1650577858
The reports came as Abbott was in San Antonio campaigning on his tough-on-crime platform.
I was in San Antonio today to meet with the men & women of law enforcement.\n\nIn Texas, we ALWAYS back the blue.\n\nThat is why I signed laws that defund cities that defund police & made attacks on law enforcement officers a hate crime.\n\nThank you for keeping us safe.pic.twitter.com/fPs7lR8FzC— Greg Abbott (@Greg Abbott) 1650578380
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