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DPS Chief: Resume Border Security Contract Inquiry

Marjorie Kamys Cotera/Texas Tribune

Looking to clear the Texas Department of Public Safety's name, the agency’s top official is asking the head of the state's anti-corruption unit to renew a halted investigation into $20 million no-bid border security contracts.

"The department has been much maligned by inaccurate reporting and the citizens of Texas, the Legislature and the men and women of DPS, deserve a resolution to this matter once and for all," DPS Executive Director Steve McCraw wrote in a letter Thursday to Gregg Cox, the assistant Travis County prosecutor who heads the state's public integrity unit.

A call to Cox for comment was not immediately returned. 

In January, the Houston Chronicle revealed that the unit had dropped its investigation of the DPS contracts with Abrams Learning and Information Systems, a Virginia-based defense contractor.

The Chronicle reported that the investigation was scrapped as a result of former Gov. Rick Perry's 2013 veto of $7.5 million in state funds for the unit after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign following her drunken driving arrest. Perry was later indicted over the veto threat and is now challenging those charges in court.

McCraw's demand to resume the investigation comes as legislation to make the public integrity unit part of the Texas Rangers — the DPS' storied investigative division — is expected to make it to the House floor on Thursday afternoon for debate.

House Bill 1690’s sponsor, state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford told the Austin American-Statesman his bill would prevent against conflicts if DPS received a complaint about itself because the Rangers would be able to refer investigations about DPS to an outside law enforcement agency. 

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