Wendy Davis leaves local law firm

02/06/2014 3:53 PM

02/06/2014 7:44 PM

State Sen. Wendy Davis has left her post with one of the city’s largest and oldest law firms, as her bid to become Texas’ next governor ramps up.

“In managing her obligations during the campaign, Senator Davis concluded her of counsel work to Cantey Hanger on December 31, 2013,” according to a statement from her gubernatorial campaign.

Davis, D-Fort Worth, and Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott are the perceived front-runners in the March primaries and are expected to face each other in the Nov. 4 general election battle that will determine Texas’ next governor.

“There can be a number of explanations for this,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor with Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “But there have been two issues people have expected to pose difficulties for her in her campaign: her personal biography... and the mix of business and politics.

“People have expected that the issue of crossing politics and business in Wendy Davis’ career — like in the careers of many Texans — will be an issue in the campaign,” he said. “This might be an attempt to clean this up and make it a historical issue rather than a contemporary one.”

While Davis has left her post with Cantey Hanger, she remains with the Newby Davis firm that she and Brian Newby, Gov. Rick Perry’s former chief of staff, began several years ago, according to her campaign.

Davis’ legal work has become a political issue in the past, particularly in her 2012 re-election bid against then state Rep. Mark Shelton, R-Fort Worth.

Shelton focused on Davis’ vote on a measure regarding tollway fines because her firm represented the North Texas Tollway Authority. Davis maintained she did nothing improper.

Shelton also filed complaints against Davis with the Texas Ethics Commission for “not disclosing her business relationships with state lobbyists.” At the time, he alleged that Davis didn’t disclose that two of the three employees of her law firm who lobby for “subject matter” interests that overlapped committees Davis served on.

During debates, Davis maintained that she “complied absolutely with every ethics law in the state of Texas” and noted that her law partner did not lobby her on behalf of their law firm and neither did she.

Davis joined Cantey Hanger in 2010 as “of counsel” to focus on public law, which included working with clients in public policy, regulatory and legislative issues, according to a statement at the time.

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