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Texas AG Catching Heat For About-Face On AA Merger

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
Jack moved to Dallas after three years at WESH-TV, the NBC affil...
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NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Democrat or Republican — it doesn’t matter.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is facing heat for his about face on joining the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit to block the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

Democratic State Representative Chris Turner of Arlington said, “I think the facts show this was very political.”

Republican Tom Pauken, the former Texas Workforce Commission Chairman, who is also running for governor said, “The Abbott campaign decided to cut their losses.”

Both Pauken and Turner accuse Abbott of playing politics with the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

Abbott, who’s also the Republican frontrunner for the office, dropped out of the Justice Department’s lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to block that merger. CBS 11 News reporter Jack Fink asked Abbott directly if politics played any role in his decision.

American Air CEO Tom Horton and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hold press conference at DFW Airport. Photo by C.Schechner, CBSDFW.COM)

American Air CEO Tom Horton and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hold press conference at DFW Airport. (Photo by C.Schechner, CBSDFW.COM)

Abbott said, “The role of the attorney general is to enforce the rule of law. That’s what I have done during my time as Attorney General. Whenever you bring a legal action, some people think it’s popular, others don’t think it’s popular. We get used to that and are unpersuaded.”

The political back and forth comes as State Senator Wendy Davis is expected to become the only Democrat to run for governor. She has supported the merger from the beginning.

Abbott’s announcement to join the lawsuit two months ago stunned just about everyone. But Abbott insisted they settled with both airlines because they agreed – in writing — that they would keep the corporate headquarters in North Texas and continue daily flights to the state’s smaller, rural airports.

Pauken says that’s troubling. “They agreed to what they were going to do anyway. What business is it to the attorney general to dictate that they have to stay in a certain area.”

Turner disagrees with those who believe the political pressure is now off Abbott. “I don’t think the issue goes away. I think General Abbott showed poor judgment and showed a disconnect with a lot of jobs in North Texas.”

Political analyst and veteran campaign manager John Weekley says he believes Abbott handled Tuesday’s announcement, that he was dropping out of the Justice Department’s lawsuit, and all of the questions surrounding it well.

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