(AUSTIN, Texas) — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called a police station to seek the release of a relative jailed on a shoplifting charge, outraging his rivals who have accused him of abusing his power.
Dewhurst, a Republican who has been in office since 2003, called the Allen Police Department on Aug. 3 to seek the release of a relative whom he describes as a “sister-in-law” and a “step-niece-in-law” in different parts of the call.
Police released the 12-minute conversation on Wednesday.
After identifying himself, Dewhurst, 68, is heard asking a sergeant what he needed to do to obtain the release of his relative. The officer tells Dewhurst the case is now in the hands of Collin County authorities and there’s nothing he can do.
“I am, every year, the No. 1 pick of all of the law enforcement agencies within Texas,” Dewhurst tells the officer. “You don’t know it, but I’m a supporter of you and a supporter of everybody in law enforcement.”
Then, Dewhurst asks the sergeant if he can have the number of the county judge, but the officer declined to provide it.
Dewhurst, who is running for re-election in 2014, continued to ask what he needed to do to get the relative out of police custody. The sergeant once again explained the procedure and provided him with the number to Collin County, where the relative was going to be transferred.
Dewhurst asked the sergeant for his supervisor’s number, but the officer said he was not authorized to distribute it.
“This lady, in my mind, is 100 percent innocent, and it’s just an unfortunate situation of circumstances,” Dewhurst said.
Dewhurst described the relative as “the sweetest woman in the world.”
Dewhurst spokesman Travis Considine said in a statement, “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.”
Allen County Police Department Sgt. Jon Felty told ABC News that Dewhurst did “nothing wrong” and “did not threaten anyone.”
“He did whatever any family member would do in a similar situation,” Felty said. “He did not ask for anything out of line and I do not have a problem with it.
But the call drew criticism from Dewhurst’s top Republican rival for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Dan Patrick.
“The fact that David Dewhurst believes he and his family are above the law is the height of arrogance and recklessness,” Patrick said. “This blatant abuse of power would be stunning coming from any elected official.”
Todd Staples, Texas agriculture commissioner and a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, compared Dewhurst’s call to Will Ferrell’s Anchorman character Ron Burgundy.
“Dew’s call to Allen PD sounds like anchorman Ron Burgundy: ‘I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal. People know me,'” he said on Twitter Wednesday night.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Dan Berman, CNN
MJ Lee, CNN Newswire