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Federal aid covers most costs of cameras near Texas-Mexico border
Todd Staples, speaking here during a January 27, 2014, debate with fellow Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, sent an email blast about funding cameras near the Mexico border (Photo by L.M. Otero). Todd Staples, speaking here during a January 27, 2014, debate with fellow Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, sent an email blast about funding cameras near the Mexico border (Photo by L.M. Otero).

Todd Staples, speaking here during a January 27, 2014, debate with fellow Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, sent an email blast about funding cameras near the Mexico border (Photo by L.M. Otero).

By W. Gardner Selby February 7, 2014

Lieutenant governor candidate Todd Staples says he not only has a plan that addresses border security, he’s already tackled the challenge.

Staples, Texas’ agriculture commissioner, wrote in a Jan. 13 campaign email blast, "Using cost savings that I achieved from cutting government waste, I helped fund Operation Drawbridge, a low-cost, high-tech, DPS-led operation that placed game cameras along the border to detect illegal trafficking.

"As a result, more than 21,500 arrests have been made and 46 tons of narcotics confiscated."

That's Half True, we concluded.

Our sense was that his statement could leave the misleading impression that a few hundred thousand dollars committed on Staples’ watch to a Department of Public Safety program already established near the border culminated in all those touted arrests and confiscations.

Nearly $350,000 in grant money from the Texas Department of Agriculture supported the border effort. But we didn't see a way to tie particular arrests and confiscations to the grants. Also, Staples' statement left out the critical fact that about 90 percent of the operation’s funding has come from $2.5 million in federal aid awarded through Gov. Rick Perry's office.

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Federal aid covers most costs of cameras near Texas-Mexico border