Donations sought to replace withheld grant money from Governor Abbott

The financial impact from the political-jailhouse standoff between the governor and the sheriff of Travis County has yet to be felt. With the possibility that amount money to be withheld may grow, several GoFundMe accounts are asking supporters of the sheriff to dig deep into their pockets.

Tom Cantrell says he went straight to his computer when he heard Travis County was losing a lot of money because of its dispute with Governor Greg Abbott. Cantrell created a GoFundMe. "I was compelled to take some kind of action and as an individual you feel kind of small, out here, so I thought maybe I can do something that can make a difference,” said Cantrell.

By late Friday morning the site had only raised a few hundred dollars.

Despite that, Cantrell believes more will come in. The money is for thirteen programs. They include the Phoenix Court, which helps women transition out of prostitution, Drug Diversion and Veteran's Court.  As well as programs addressing family violence, alternatives to foster care, and juvenile justice.

"I'm not sure exactly how it is going to work, but I do know this, there is a need, and there is a need for money to help fund these programs and we will find a way." Cantrell is waiting for Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt to respond to his e-mail on how to transfer the money that's raised. 

On Wednesday, the judge said the county may absorb the hit by moving money around in the current budget. But not all may be saved. "If a program proves affective to us, both at the fiscal level and at the justice level we will of course look to expand it,” said Judge Eckhardt.

The hit to Travis County could actually grow.

The governor's budget director has spent the last few days looking for more funds that could possibly be withheld.  An expanded list from Governor Abbott could be announced as early as next week. Meanwhile, Sheriff Hernandez continues to stick to her guns. The sheriff is claiming a November mandate.

"I think it is a policy that Travis County wants, they voted on and I think it’s important to fulfill what I campaigned on and what I think is very important,” said Sheriff Hernandez.

Since the new ICE detainer rule started Wednesday, 39 undocumented immigrants who were arrested have now been released from the county jail; despite federal officials asking those inmates to be held. The number may increase as more inmates are able to post bond

Senate Bill 4, which is moving through the Texas legislature, would make officials like Hernandez liable in civil court. Cantrell says the money he raises will not be used as a legal defense fund.

"No, I don’t think that's what this is about, this is about those programs, if we weren't able to give the programs directly to the county, or some way into those programs,  then I would seek ancillary organizations that provide support to those programs, and find a way to support those programs in another way,” said Cantrell.

Another GoFundMe account has been started by Nathan Burkhart. State representative Eddie Rodriguez also launched a campaign. The initiative by the Austin democrat is called Travis County #StrongerTogether.

Donations will be managed through the Austin Community Foundation. Judge Eckhardt endorsed the stronger together site and urged others trying to raise money to link up with the Austin Community Foundation.

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