An email sent to political reporters Friday suggests Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's campaign was involved in exposing detailed information about GOP runoff opponent Dan Patrick's history of medical treatment for mental health issues.
The message from Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson was also sent to Dewhurst adviser Joseph Manero, who officially joined the campaign in April.
With a list of Capitol reporters in the "to" field, Patterson wrote, "These are the addresses to send to ASAP. We CANNOT wait. If we don't do this now, it will not be known before early voting starts."
As a result, everyone on that list received the email.
"David has a great idea, but we could've only done it if we had this stuff a week ago," Patterson continued. "Don't let Daivids [sic] indecision snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Patrick is playing the victim well. He says it was a minor bout of depression and he went in for a few days of rest. This will blow his story away."
Calls to Patterson and the Dewhurst campaign were not immediately returned. When asked by The Texas Tribune on Friday morning prior to Patterson's email being sent out, Dewhurst spokesman Andrew Barlow said the campaign had no role in making the information public.
Patterson, a former candidate in the race who is now backing Dewhurst, released a deposition to news outlets Thursday night that revealed Patrick was diagnosed as having a chemical imbalance in the early 1980s and was hospitalized at two different Houston facilities. In a statement released in response, the Patrick campaign blamed Dewhurst for the release of the documents, and explained that Patrick had sought and received medical attention for “mild depression and exhaustion” in the 1980s.
Dewhurst was not an obvious participant in making the information public, issuing only a short statement in response to the reports about Patrick.
"My heart goes out to Dan and his family for what they've endured while coping with his condition," he said.
Three Republican senators who have endorsed Patrick — Sens. Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, Bob Deuell of Greenville and Charles Schwertner of Georgetown, all doctors — said in a statement sent late Thursday night that they "sincerely hope David Dewhurst was not responsible for this sleazy attack and would encourage him to stop the negative personal attacks and focus his campaign on the issues."
Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairwoman Jane Nelson joined them with a statement Friday morning.
"As chair of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee, I was shocked at the recent attack on one of our members, invading his medical privacy — and hitting a new low in Texas politics," wrote Nelson, a Republican. "At a time when we are working so hard for society to accept mental health as they would any other medical condition, it is despicable to turn Senator Patrick's private health information from 30 years ago into a campaign issue. We are better than this."