Abbott campaign questions Wendy Davis’ book release, promotional tour

Jackie Wang

Wendy Davis, state senator and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, started a promotional tour Tuesday for her new memoir, “Forgetting to be Afraid.” The release and publicity tour prompted questions from the campaign of Greg Abbott, attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Abbott’s campaign manager Wayne Hamilton filed a request Monday with the Texas Ethics Commission for an advisory opinion on the legality of her promotional tour for the memoir. Since corporate contributions to a campaign are illegal in Texas elections, Hamilton questioned whether Davis’ tour could count as an in-kind contribution. 

While Davis’ camp dismissed the questions, law adjunct professor Ross Fischer said the Abbott campaign has legitimate concerns.

“The timing raises some interesting and significant legal questions,” Fischer said. “It may be appropriate in a political sense, but it raises legal issues that haven’t been looked at fully before.”

In the book, Davis reveals she received two abortions for medical reasons in the 1990s. Fischer said he had no problem with the contents of Davis’ memoir, although he thought the timing of the promotional tour is a potential issue.

Alexander Parker, communications director for the University’s College Republicans chapter and finance and Plan II sophomore, said he understood why the questions were raised but thought they were not that important.

“I think there are some merits to raising some issue to the timing of it,” Parker said. “It is convenient timing but, to some extent, is about raising publicity, and that’s what these races are about.”

Parker said he thought voters would already have their minds made up, regardless of Davis’ book.

“I would hope what’s going to influence people are the issues on the table,” Parker said. “This background is good, but, at the end of the day, it’s what the candidates have to offer.”

Katie Adams, University Democrats communication director and mechanical engineering senior, said she was sure the ethics commission would come to a decision eventually, but, for now, the story was more important.

“I’m so proud of her for sharing stories — how she struggled as a young mother to her overcoming her family tragedies. She really is a role model for Texans,” Adams said. “One in three women have had an abortion, so, statistically speaking, we all know someone who has had one. So many women hesitate to share. At her filibuster, she was a voice for people who couldn’t share.”

Adams said the timing of the book’s release should have no effect on the election.

“I think it’s important for people to reveal important decisions when they feel it’s right for them to share it,” Adams said. “Who am I to judge that?”

Davis will sign copies of her memoir at BookPeople on Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

Correction: Due to an editing error, a quote was mistakenly attributed to Fischer, it should have been attributed to Parker.