AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas’ embattled elections chief who questioned the U.S. citizenship of tens of thousands of Texas voters who were legally registered to vote resigned effective immediately on Monday.
Governor Greg Abbott accepted David Whitley’s resignation after the Texas Senate didn’t have enough votes to confirm him.
Whitley did not specifically address the flubbed voter search in his resignation letter.
When asked by a reporter if the Senate fought hard enough to try to confirm Whitley, Gov. Abbott said before Whitley resigned, “I think the Senate fought hard and we’ll see how things turn out.”
“It’s unfortunate that he made some political errors that were frankly non-redeemable,” said Democratic State Senator Royce West. “The votes aren’t there to affirm him.”
In his resignation letter to Governor Abbott, Whitley wrote:
Effective immediately, I resign my position as Secretary of State. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve Texas. Working alongside the employees in the secretary of state’s office, county election officials, and representatives of our Si trading partner, Mexico, has been my distinct honor and privilege. And to have your trust in doing so goes beyond what I ever dreamed of as a kid growing up in a small South Texas community.
Texas is a grand place, full of grand people and ideas. During my time as Secretary of State, I’ve had the chance to experience the best of our state and its people. I met with county election officials and high school principals to talk about ways to increase youth participation in elections. I visited eight international border crossings with Mexico and presided over a meeting of the Border Trade Advisory Committee to discuss the commerce that we share with our friend to the south and to improve efficiency. And I built a bridge for opposing voices to engage in dialogue to improve election integrity and access.
I am forever indebted to Texas for all it has done for my family and me. Thank you again for this incredible chance to make it a better place.
Whitley, a former top aide of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, can’t stay in office unless the state Senate confirms his nomination before the session ends Monday. But his prospects were dimming by the minute as Democrats continued blocking a vote on his confirmation, as they have done since February.
That was after Whitley’s office rolled out a bungled scouring of voter rolls that flagged tens of thousands of American voters as potential non-citizens. President Donald Trump seized on the news out of Texas to renew his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, but within days, it became clear the data used was deeply flawed.
The botched search reignited tensions over voting rights in Texas, and Whitley angered Democrats when he went on to say at his confirmation hearing that it was “irrelevant” how he would personally define voter suppression.
READ GOVERNOR ABBOTT’S LETTER ACCEPTING WHITLEY’S RESIGNATION
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)