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Texas Lt. Gov. pulled rank while trying to get relative out of jail

Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R), in a newly released audio recording, refers to his office and his work to support law enforcement while trying to get a relative out of jail.

In the audio, first reported by the NBC affiliate in Dallas, Dewhurst doesn't make any threats. But he does repeatedly refer to his job title and his work with law enforcement, calling himself its "No. 1 pick."

"This is David Dewhurst, the lieutenant governor of the state of Texas," Dewhurst introduces himself on the Aug. 3 call to the police department in Allen, Tex., a Dallas suburb. "And I want to talk to the senior officer who is there at your department right now."

After the person who answers the phone asks Dewhurst to clarify, Dewhurst repeats that he is the lieutenant governor.

After waiting on hold for a couple minutes, he is transferred to a sergeant, whom Dewhurst asks to spell his name and then repeats that he is the lieutenant governor.

Later, Dewhurst tells the sergeant that two officials will call the sergeant after he does to verify that he was, in fact, the lieutenant governor.

Dewhurst says he believes his relative was arrested on a "mistaken charge" of shoplifting and refers to his support for law enforcement.

"Sergeant, you don’t know me," Dewhurst says. "I am every year the No. 1 pick of all of the law enforcement agencies within Texas -- their No. 1 pick, all right? You don't know it, but I’m a supporter of you, and I'm a supporter of everybody in law enforcement. And I want you to do whatever is the proper thing, 'cause this lady is not -- I know in my heart -- is not involved in intentionally walking out and stealing $57."

The woman in jail is the daughter-in-law of Dewhurst's stepsister. She was arrested after being accused of shoplifting at a grocery store.

Dewhurst's office maintains he did nothing improper in the call and that he never asked the police to do anything out of the ordinary.

"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," a statement from his office read.

Dewhurst was the front-runner in the 2012 U.S. Senate race before losing a GOP primary runoff to Ted Cruz, who went on to win the general election.

Dewhurst faces GOP primary challengers this year as well in his bid for reelection. Those challengers seized on the recording, saying Dewhurst tried to steamroll the police.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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