Dukes Facing Criticism for Missing Committee Meeting

Chose San Diego area over Joint Medicaid Reform Legislat­ive Oversight Committee's first interim meeting

Dawnna Dukes
Dawnna Dukes (Photo by John Anderson)

State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, is facing heavy criticism over claims she missed a vital committee meeting to take an out-of-state junket.

Dukes is the only Democratic House member on the Joint Medicaid Reform Legislat­ive Oversight Committee. But she was absent when the eight-member body held its first interim meeting Dec. 6. Scandal erupted two days later when Matt Glazer, editor-in-chief of Texas politics news blog Burnt Orange Report, was vacationing at Bally's Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. He was surprised to see Dukes there playing the slots. He took a photo, quickly posted it on his website, and said she had "skipped the hearing for a junket to Las Vegas."

Dukes spokesman Colin Strother called the criticism "a fabrication, and the posters know it." While the committee meeting was on Thursday, the photo was actually taken on Saturday, Dec. 8. Dukes was in Las Vegas because she had broken from her return trip from a National Conference of State Legis­lat­ures convention in La Jolla, Calif. Explaining why Dukes was in California watching former White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta talk about the "evolving state-feder­al partnership" rather than in Austin trying to fix Medicaid, Strother said it was an unfortunate but unavoidable timetabling mishap. The committee chair, Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, had scheduled the meeting without the normal process of polling members to see if they would be available. Both Dukes and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, had prior commitments, so they missed the meeting. The NCSL confirmed Dukes attended the convention. Strother said he asked Glazer to correct the report and said, "Her weekend is hers to do with as she pleases, just like any other Texan."

But Glazer questioned her priorities and added, "She is the sole House Democrat on the Medicaid Committee, and she wasn't there."

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Dawnna Dukes
Dawnna Dukes Takes <i>Statesman</i>, D.A.s to Court
Dawnna Dukes Takes Statesman, D.A.s to Court
Outgoing state rep seeks $7.8 million in damages

Mary Tuma, Nov. 2, 2018

The Epic of Dawnna Dukes
The Epic of Dawnna Dukes
And what a year it's been

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 29, 2017

More by Richard Whittaker
Ben Wheatley Goes Digging <i>In The Earth</i>
Ben Wheatley Goes Digging In The Earth
Of mushrooms, men, and subterranean superintelligences ..

April 15, 2021

In the Earth
Ben Wheatley's unexpected eco-horror is sinister and hilarious

April 16, 2021


Dawnna Dukes, Joint Medicaid Reform Legislat­ive Oversight Committee, Matt Glazer, Colin Strother, National Conference of State Legis­lat­ures, Leon Panetta, Jane Nelson, Judith Zaffirini

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle