Political rivals are pouncing on Lt. Governor David Dewhurst because of a phone call he made earlier this month. The call involved the arrest of a relative for allegedly shoplifting at a grocery store.
One Republican rival describes it as, "blatant abuse of power." The chairman of the state Democratic Party says Lt Governor David Dewhurst was "acting above the law." Thursday it was clear, the battle for one of the most power positions in the state government has taken an unexpected turn.
The call came into the Allen Police Department August 3.
"Janice this is David Dewhurst, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Texas, and I want to talk to your senior officer who is there at your department right now."
Lt Governor David Dewhurst, who also wanted the local judge's phone number, was trying to get a relative released from jail.
"What do I need to do, in order to not circumvent anything, follow the law...because this is ridiculous."
After releasing the recorded call, Sgt. Joe Felty, a spokesperson with the Allen Police Department said the incident was not a legal matter.
"He didn't threaten anybody. He didn't demand anything. He didn't ask for anything that was above and beyond what a normal citizen would, so no I don't think he did anything that crossed any lines."
The Lt Governor's niece, Ellen Bevers, was arrested at a store and charged with shoplifting $57 worth of groceries.
"I don't think she ever picked up the phone and called her husband and said get Lt Governor Dewhurst on the phone and get me out of here," said Attorney Todd Shapiro who represents Bevers.
Thursday, Shapiro, questioned why the recording was released by the police department and also defended the Lt. Governor.
"I don't think at any time in that call did he insinuate that she needed to be treated any different than anybody else, he just wanted to get a lay of the land find out who he needed to talk to help her out," said Shapiro.
At one time Lt Gov. Dewhurst was considered to be a rising star in the Republican Party and a political force here at the state capitol but two big miss-steps have made him vulnerable. First he lost his U.S. Senate bid to a Tea Party favorite and then he lost control of the State Senate during the special Session.
"Well, there's a little bit of blood in the water especially cause of the time of year, right now there's not a lot politically going on so this story, which isn't all that major has become the Big story," said political analysts Brian Smith says a quick apology could provide a quick fix--maybe.
"If he doesn't do anything about it right now, it might get legs and last all the way through to the Primary season," said Smith.
A parody of movie character Ron Burgundy posted on Todd Staples Facebook page is an example of how rivals are trying to keep the incident in the public eye. On website, called the, "dewfeed" supporters of another Republican rival Dan Patrick are counting on more stumbles. The current theme on the site is titled; "dog days of Dewhurst" has reduced the Lt Governor's phone call to K-9 comedy.
Jerry Patterson, on his website, took a more serious approach. He admits the call was "newsworthy" but is critical of what he describes as "snarky" responses "overpaid social media consultants" hired by other campaigns.