U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, got a glamorous visitor last week who had a serious purpose. Pop star Demi Lovato, a Dallas native, came to talk to lawmakers about mental illness, especially her own difficulties with mental illness.
Cornyn tweeted: Congratulations to @ddlovato for using her celebrity to advance the treatment of mental illness.
“I was very impressed by Miss Lovato,” he said. “I don’t necessarily follow her music very closely but I did Google her and pulled up a YouTube video of some of her performances. She’s had an incredible story.”
Cornyn said that she told him that when she was only 7 years old she talked of killing herself. “Her courage of acknowledging that in public and then talking about her mental health struggles as well as her addictions and her rehabilitation and recovery, was nothing short of inspirational,” he said.
Lovato was part of the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Hill Day, a two-day event for advocates to discuss improving mental health services.
Change in staff
State Sen. Konni Burton is following Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s lead.
Burton, R-Colleyville, has hired Elliott Griffin — who served as external affairs director for Patrick — as her new chief of staff.
“I had a phenomenal staff last session and together we fulfilled our commitment to the voters of Senate District 10 to govern based on the principles of limited government, individual liberty and free market economics,” Burton said. “Elliott Griffin is deeply committed to these same conservative principles, is highly organized and knows the legislative process in and out.”
Texas GOP members of Congress voted almost entirely along party lines — almost — against funding the government just before the Oct. 1 deadline.
Later that day, nearly the entire Texas Democratic delegation voted against eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, apparently mistakenly, broke ranks in the 11-member delegation and voted to stop funding the group.
So, who were the outliers? Of the 25-member Texas Republican delegation only Reps. Mac Thornberry of Clarendon and Will Hurd of Helotes voted in favor of the Continuing Resolution. The bill passed with 91 Republicans joining all 186 Democrats.
Gone but not forgotten
Ann Richards was present in unexpected ways when the late Texas governor’s daughter, Cecile Richards, recently testified before Congress.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, came under fire during a House committee hearing for videos that anti-abortion groups secretly took about the purported sale of body parts.
As the hearing focused more on Richards herself, Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn., said, “Surely you don’t expect us to be easier on you just because you’re a woman?”
That prompted a spark from Richards: “That’s not how my mama raised me.”
Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-Va., fondly remembered Ann Richards. “Wish your mom were here today. She’d be handing out Texas boots to a lot of my colleagues.”
Richards replied, “She’s here in spirit.”
Upcoming local political events
▪ Monday — GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum speaks at a noon World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth luncheon at the Fort Worth Club.
▪ Oct. 18 — Prestonwood Baptist Church and the Faith & Freedom Coalition host a “North Texas Presidential Forum” at 3 p.m. at the Plano church. So far, a half-dozen Republican candidates have confirmed: Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Santorum. Tickets to the event are free but they all have already been claimed.
▪ Oct. 20 — Carson is scheduled to hold an 11:30 a.m. book signing at Barnes & Noble’s Hulen Shopping Center, 4801 Overton Ridge Blvd.
Maria Recio, 202-383-6103
Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610