Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Taps Hispanic Former Aide as Secretary of State After Noncitizen Voter Flap

AUSTIN -- Gov. Greg Abbott, vexed by blowback over a close aide’s probe last winter of possible voting by noncitizens, again has tapped a Hispanic to serve as Texas secretary of state.On Monday, Abbott appointed his former associate in the state attorney general’s office, Ruth Ruggero Hughs of Austin, to serve as secretary of state.For the past year, she has served as chairwoman of the Texas Workforce Commission. In July 2015, Abbott made her the employers’ representative on the commission. It regulates labor practices, promotes workforce training and administers unemployment insurance.“Ruth is a proven leader who has done a tremendous job as both a commissioner and the chair of the Texas Workforce Commission,” Abbott said in a written statement.Hughs built strong ties to the business community and “helped lead the way in developing the best workforce in the nation,” he said. “Under Ruth’s leadership, we will continue to build the Texas brand on the international stage and uphold the integrity of our elections,” he said.Since December, though, Hughs and the commission’s two other members have drawn fire from labor unions and other groups for a rule they put into place that made gig economy workers contractors. Doing so exempted their employers from having to pay into the state’s unemployment compensation fund.In March, The Texas Observer reported that despite a commission spokeswoman’s denial that Hughs and her colleagues used outside sources in drafting the rule, Handy, an app-based cleaning and maintenance company, was secretly collaborating with Hughs on the rule’s language, according to newly released emails.Late Monday, Jose Garza, co-executive director of Workers Defense, which advocates for fair wages and enforcement of workplace health and safety standards, said the rule weakens protections for workers.  Continue reading...

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