Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blackout: DPS keeps Rep. Krusee's Roadside Olympics tape in the lurch

DPS withholding video of Mike Krusee's arrest

May 22, 2008

KXAN-TV (Austin)
Copyright 2008

The Texas Department of Public Safety is withholding trooper dashboard camera video taken during the arrest of Texas representative Mike Krusee.

Using the Texas Public Information Act, KXAN requested the video after the state lawmaker from Williamson County was arrested for DWI earlier this month. A state trooper pulled him over after he noticed him driving erratically in northwest Austin. The license plate on his vehicle also had expired last December.

Elected state officials all have personalized license plates. Therefore, the trooper would have known he was pulling over a state official before asking for identification.

A spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety said Krusee failed a field sobriety test. When asked if he had been drinking, Krusee said he had had one glass of wine.

DPS is using a section of government code that allows law enforcement entities to withhold information regarding an ongoing investigation, if they choose.

Krusee who, before his arrest, announced he planned on not running for reelection, helped pave the way for major toll road projects and stiffer drunken driving penalties.

Krusee sponsored House Bill 3588, which opened the door for the state's toll road system and the Trans-Texas Corridor. It also included a provision to create the driver responsibility program, which charges a $1,000 surcharge for first-time offenders convicted of driving while intoxicated, with additional penalties for repeat offenses.

The Capitol had buzzed that Krusee would be a candidate to serve on the Texas Transportation Commission once he resigned his seat in the House. Paul Burka, senior executive editor of Texas Monthly, speculated on his blog Thursday that the DWI did not help Krusee, mainly because it gave new ammunition to toll road opponents who oppose Krusee's appointment.

"Krusee has made himself a bigger target than he would have been otherwise," Burka said.

The second strike against Krusee's appointment to the Texas Transportation Commission -- if Gov. Rick Perry were to choose to appoint him -- is that he would follow Perry's former chief of staff Deirdre Delisi onto the commission. Perry named Delisi chair of the commission this week. One Perry appointee completely committed to toll roads and the Trans-Texas Corridor might be expected; there might be natural opposition to two such appointments, Burka said.

Under state law, Krusee's license is automatically suspended for 180 days for refusing a breath test. He was released from Williamson County Jail in Georgetown Thursday morning after posting a $1,000 bail. First-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by probation to 180 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

Krusee has served in the House since 1993. He's a close ally of Perry on transportation issues and stood as the sole House vote against a bill that would rein in toll roads last session.

© Copyright 2008 KXAN-TV

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