Dukes Deal Off. Next Stop: Court.

District Attorney confirms state rep will stand trial

Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Pflugerville, now headed to an Oct. 16 trial date for charges of abuse of office (Photo by John Anderson)

It was the offer no one seriously expected her to take, but it seems Rep. Dawnna Dukes has let expire a proposal for a plea deal from District Attorney Margaret Moore, paving the way for the Pflugerville Democrat to stand trial later this year.

Dukes currently faces 15 charges related to abuse of office. This week, Moore’s office offered to drop the charges on several conditions: resign from her her state seat; pay a series of fines; and submit to drug and alcohol testing, to potentially be followed up by counseling and/or rehab.

The big condition was that Dukes had to accept the deal by close of business Tuesday, Aug. 1. At 5:10pm, Moore issued a very brief statement:

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore announced that she has had no contact today from the attorneys for Repepresentative Dukes. The offer to resolve this matter has expired and is no longer available. We will be ready for trial.
So the current trial date of Oct. 16 stands, much to the frustration of many Travis County Democrats who wish that Dukes had taken the deal. That may include the majority of the Democratic precinct chairs in her House District 46 seat. They have already called for Dukes to resign – not because of her legal problems, but because she had already reneged on her promise to step down at the beginning of the regular session. Dukes then proceeded to miss the bulk of the session, most of her committee meetings, and a large number of vital votes, including final approval of the budget.

Reached for comment, Precinct 126 chair Daniel Segura Kelly told the Chronicle, “Evidently, Representative Dukes is not interested in doing what’s best for her or her constituents. Dukes wants her day in court and she’ll get it, but Dukes continues to deny the voters of TXHD 46 what we need, representation.”

In spite of those calls from her own precinct chairs, Dukes has already said she will run again in next year’s primary. However, if convicted that choice would be out of her hands, due to new, tougher anti-corruption legislation passed during the session – of which she missed so much. Under Senate Bill 500, if convicted of a felony relating to abuse of office, she would be immediately removed from office. Furthermore, Dukes would be barred from drawing her state pension while she was either imprisoned or on parole.

It’s worth noting that Moore’s deal would have dropped all charges, so that Dukes would have kept those pension rights. With a trial date set, if Dukes is convicted of felonious abuse of office, she will not only lose her freedom, but also her pension.

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Dawnna Dukes, Margaret Moore, Travis County District Attorney

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