Dallas' Helen Giddings and Other Black Lawmakers Object to Security Measures at Rick Perry's Mansion

Helen Giddings
State Representative Helen Giddings was one of several Democratic lawmakers invited to the Governor's Mansion Monday afternoon for a reception hosted by the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. But she never showed up.

Giddings declined the invitation to protest the requirement that she undergo a background check before being admitted to the mansion. She wasn't the only one to object. Reps. Sylvester Turner, Dawnna Dukes and Harold Dutton all bristled at the requirement.

(Note: The original post incorrectly stated that Giddings arrived at the mansion for the event only to leave after learning of the security measures. Giddings' spokeswoman, Tamara Hobbs, said she knew about the background check beforehand, which was why she chose not to go. "She felt that those requirements were unnecessary. ... She wasn't offended nor turned away," Giddings said).

Their grievances were aired on Thursday at a House Appropriations Committee hearing featuring Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, the man ultimately responsible for setting security policy at the Capitol.

"Is this not enough to get into the governor's mansion?" the Austin American-Statesman quotes Turner as asking, holding up his Capitol ID badge, which was issued by -- you guessed it -- the DPS.

"It appears to make those of us who have been cleared to operate in this building," Giddings offered, according to the Texas Tribune. "It appears to make us suspect when we go into the governor's mansion."

McCraw told lawmakers that everyone except for Governor Rick Perry and his wife, Anita, are required to undergo criminal background checks on anyone entering the residence. A DPS spokesman told the Texas Tribune that the policy has been in place for 10 years.

Turner dismissed the suggestion that race played a factor in the security screenings, arguing instead that the policy is impractical and really doesn't make sense for legislators whom DPS has already screened.

It appears the legislators' complaints may have an effect. The Tribune reports that DPS officials will meet with representatives from Perry's office to revisit security measures.

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Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

What do you expect?  Oops has a shooting ranch he calls "Niggerhead".


How was Governor Perry involved? Does he even live there? I am sure he was not hosting a party for the Black Caucus. Also, how would you know if security ran a background check? Were they asked or notified as part of the invitation? The officers just enter your name in the database and look for hits. They are not sending Jim Rockford and Mike Hammer on a mission to expose your secrets.

RTGolden1 topcommenter

It isn't that Rep Giddings 'never made it inside'.  It's that she thought she deserved special dispensation due to her office and didn't deign to undergo the required background check.  Nothing to see here, move along.

everlastingphelps topcommenter

I'm all for the idea that having to "show your papers" before entering a Public building (and I mean Public as in, owned by the People) is offensive and uncalled for.

I'm not for the idea that legislators are somehow special, and it's only offensive when it happens to them.


"Do you know who I am?"

Deal with it, hon.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

A couple of items ...

1) It is not Rick Perry's mansion.  It is the Governor's Mansion.  Li'l Ricky gets to use it courtesy of the people of the State of Texas.

2) Has the DPS ever found the person who set the Mansion on fire a few years back?  What is the status of that investigation?

3) If a person cannot pass a criminal background check due to a felony, they cannot hold elected office.  At best, a state legislator will only have low level misdemeanors on their record.

4) I think that this may be more a case of Li'l Ricky not wanting any Dimmycrats in the Mansion, which is even worse.  I suggest that these legislators get their way by cutting funding from the budget for the O&M of the Governor's Mansion since Li'l Ricky seems to think that it belongs to him personally.  After all he can do it.  He has both his salary as governor and his retirement pension as a long term state employee.


It doesn't appear that anyone but yourself is trying to make this a race issue. 

scottindallas topcommenter

@MikeWestEast Yes, the Governor lives in the Governor's Mansion.  That's kinda how it works.  Except when the place burned, then we paid $20k/mo for Perry to live somewhere else. 

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