AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued this statement today refuting Sen. Eckhardt’s, D-Austin, letter to the Senate Journal:
“Sen. Sarah Eckhardt’s obliviousness came shining through in her broadside attack on me on two major issues she claims were important to the trial. She apparently did not listen well in court or read the pre-trial motions.
“First, she says I stopped Laura Olson from testifying. Not true. I never ruled on Ms. Olson’s attorney’s motion to stop Ms. Olson from testifying.
“After the House called Ms. Olson to testify, I had to address her lawyer’s motion to quash the subpoena. I met with both parties and Ms. Olson’s attorney in my office and listened to all sides’ arguments. Then, as I did throughout the trial when there was disagreement, I asked if both parties could agree on a solution. House lawyer Erin Epley quickly proposed the court publicly announce, “She’s present, but not available.” I looked at Tony Buzbee and Rep. Andrew Murr, R-Junction, who both immediately nodded their heads in agreement. Rep. Murr, the chairman of the House Investigating Committee, provided the statement I ultimately read in open court.
“I also announced on the Senate floor two times that both parties agreed to that language. I guess Sen. Eckhardt did not hear me either time. I did not craft that language, the House did.
“Lawyer Epley, who I thought did a fine job in the trial, said they wanted that language because the House did not want to appear like they did not want to call Olson to the stand. A court reporter recorded everything said.
“Sen. Eckhardt also complained about me adjusting the time for each party to a total of 24 hours for direct and cross examination. She said that was unfair. Once again, she is wrong and apparently was not listening either in our Senators’ meetings or in court when I announced both parties agreed to how the 24 hours was calculated.
“All Sen. Eckhardt had to do was read both parties’ pre-trial motions. The House Managers wrote that, “at a minimum, the House Managers seek clarification that the time spent by an opposing party on cross examination will be counted only against the party conducting the cross examination.” Ken Paxton’s motion responded, “the Attorney General does not object to this method of timekeeping[.]” The week before the trial, I met with both parties and reviewed their motions. They both instantly agreed on 24 hours total time for direct and cross.
“In practice, the clock ran for routine objections for both sides and stopped for longer conferences. I gave time back to the House several times during the trial and they also were given an extra 43 minutes left over from their opening statement. In the end, the House had 1 hour and 40 minutes left over and Paxton’s team had 4 and half hours remaining from the 24 hours they were each allotted.
“Sen. Eckhardt is flat out wrong on both of those attacks. She should retract her inaccurate attack statements from the journal so that the historic record is accurate on those two points.
“As far as her criticism of me, a non-lawyer, not ruling on every objection the way Sen. Eckhardt would have, she knows full well that even experienced judges make rulings not everyone agrees with.
“As was widely reported by the media during the trial, most legal observers said they thought I was very fair. Both parties said the same to me after the trial and appreciated how I listened to their arguments. Neither side won every argument they made. I think that alone demonstrates fairness.
“I realize I am not an attorney like Sen. Eckhardt. I know she was not happy all summer because she did not get her way on the rules. Her colleagues disagreed with her. The final vote on the rules was 25-3. She was the only Democrat to vote against the rules.
“Whether she likes it or not, the rules and historical precedent say the Lt. Governor is the presiding officer of the trial. I did my very best. I am proud of the entire Senate and how the trial was conducted. I believe we set a model for future Senate trials.
“Sen. Eckhardt, in the future, allow me to recommend that before you launch an attack, check the facts first before you speak.”