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Officials Dispute Stickland's Claim That Investigation is Over.

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A state investigation into allegations that state Rep. Jonathan Stickland improperly registered witnesses to testify on a bill banning red light cameras has cleared Stickland of wrongdoing, his office announced Monday. But two officials involved in the investigation disagreed with the Bedford Republican's declaration Monday evening.

"I can confirm that we have met with the Texas Rangers working on the case and the investigation is still ongoing," said Gregg Cox, head of the public integrity unit at the Travis district attorney's office. Asked about Stickland's claim that he was personally cleared of wrongdoing, Cox said, "I would not agree with that statement."

During a late night hearing of the House Transportation Committee on April 30, state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, the committee's chairman, and Stickland got into an argument as Stickland presented House Bill 142, which would ban red light cameras. Pickett accused Stickland of listing witnesses who were not in Austin as supporters of his legislation. He then ordered Stickland to leave the hearing.

At issue is whether people supportive of a bill on the hearing's agenda illegally registered witnesses who weren't at the Capitol that day. Legislative rules require witnesses who want to participate in a hearing to be physically in the room. They must register through electronic kiosks outside the hearing rooms. Witnesses invited by the committee can arrange to testify remotely.

Earlier this month, the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee referred an investigation into the hearing to the Texas Rangers, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Stickland has denied any wrongdoing.

"Late Friday I spoke with one of the Rangers assigned to the case," said Trey Trainor, Stickland's lawyer. "I was told that the investigation was over and that I would not be hearing from DPS anymore."

Trainor said the Travis County district attorney's office declined to take up the case based on DPS's evidence.

Cox said Trainor's assessment is not accurate.

DPS spokesman Tom Vinger also said the investigation remains ongoing.

"At this time, this investigation is under final review by the Texas Ranger management team," Vinger said.

Terri Langford contributed to this report.

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Publication:The Texas Tribune
Date:May 18, 2015
Words:492
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