Travis County DA opens criminal investigation into power outages
AUSTIN, Texas - The Travis County District Attorney announced his office will be conducting a criminal investigation to figure out if anyone or group is to blame for millions of Texans being left without power and water for days during last week’s storm.
The investigation was sparked by a letter sent to the DA by US Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio.
According to District Attorney Jose Garza, the investigation is being handled by the Public Integrity and Complex Crimes Division in his office. "I'm also deeply concerned about what got us here. And we will be looking at the actions and inaction that got us to this place," he said.
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Fischer says it's hard to look back at what so many Texans had to go through during last week’s brutal storm.
"It was horrific on lots of levels: no running water, no lights, freezing cold, people were dying. When you compound all of that, I mean, it's obviously very, very tragic. Some of it could have been better, we could have had better outcomes, we could have saved some lives, we could have better prepared," he said.
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U.S. Rep. Fischer says now that the storm is over, its time to figure out who’s actions or inactions caused the power outages and water issues. He believes ERCOT, PUCT, and the State need to be looked into.
"What we've learned in these recent hearings in Austin is that Governor Abbott knew about this storm at least two days and maybe even longer, and never said anything. [Those] 48 hours, 72 hours is a mini lifetime when you're doing disaster preparedness," said Rep. Fischer.
However, Rep. Fischer says the state can't investigate itself so its up to local law enforcement officials to conduct their own investigation into what led to the devastation. "We need to get to the root core of what happened, who dropped the ball."
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That's why U.S. Rep. Fischer sent a letter to Travis County DA Garza to conduct a criminal investigation on those groups currently in hot water following the storm. "The District Attorney in Travis County is well-positioned. The agency ERCOT that's been under review is in Travis County, the Public Utility Commission is in Travis County, the Railroad Commission is in Travis County, the Governor is in Travis County. We need a law enforcement official to come in and do an outside transparent investigation."
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DA Garza told FOX 7 he couldn't go into much detail, but says an investigation is underway.
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"If there is evidence that that suggests that a crime was committed, we will do everything we can to hold powerful actors, you know, who either through their acts, or failure to act, lead to suffering, we will do everything we can to hold them accountable," said DA Garza.