Former lieutenant governor Dewhurst sued by ex-wife over alleged unpaid divorce agreement

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The ex-wife of former Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is alleging that the former state leader failed to pay $6.7 million that he agreed to as part of their 2016 divorce. The sum includes repayment of a $2.9 million business loan she made to him and $555,000 in back alimony.

Tricia Bivins, a former energy industry lobbyist and attorney who married Dewhurst in 2012, filed suit in April in Harris County seeking the money. Dewhurst served as lieutenant governor from 2003 to 2015.

Dewhurst acknowledges the business loan from Bivins’ personal trust on his 2014 personal financial statement. According to the statement, Dewhurst provided the sole income for the couple during their marriage.

Bivins also says Dewhurst has failed to pay back two other personal loans, for $127,500 and $73,000. She also claims he failed to pay two separate lump sum alimony payments, one for $1 million and another for $2 million.

Monthly alimony payments of $35,000 due since December 2018 have also not been paid, Bivins contends. Her filing includes a payment chart for the monthly alimony, which shows Dewhurst has paid $39,000 of the total $595,000 owed. Dewhurst has steadily paid $2,000 a month since July 2018, plus another payment of $11,755 in June 2018.

Neither Dewhurst nor his lawyer responded to emails seeking comment.

Dewhurst filed for divorce in May 2015, a few months after he left office. A judge granted the divorce in February 2016, noting the document in which Dewhurst agreed to pay specific costs.

In the divorce settlement, Dewhurst agreed to pay or assume responsibility for full payment of the mortgage on a $2.2 million, 5,100-square-foot condo in the Houstonian, a luxury residential tower that former President George W.H. Bush once called home. Records show Dewhurst and Bivins purchased the condo in 2009, shortly after they were married.

Dewhurst also agreed to pay $25,000 for Bivins’ membership to the River Oaks Country Club, and to pay the cost of a 2013 Range Rover for Bivins.

Three days after the court finalized the divorce, Bivins purchased a 7,000-square-foot home next to the Houston Country Club with an appraised value of $2.9 million.

Bivins lawyer Bobby Newman did not respond to an email seeking comment. Bivins could not be reached for comment.

Dewhurst served as Texas land commissioner from 1999 to 2003 before being elected lieutenant governor in 2003. He lost his re-election bid in the 2014 Republican primary to current Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

He also made a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, losing in a Republican primary runoff to Ted Cruz, to fill the seat of retiring Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Bivins was formerly married to Republican state Sen. Teel Bivins, who later was named ambassador to Sweden by President George W. Bush.

Dewhurst and Teel Bivins, who died in 2009, served together during the legislative session of 2003. The two worked with several other senators to put together a budget that increased state spending without raising taxes.

Tricia Bivins was a lobbyist for Reliant Energy at the time. She was also a lawyer at one time with Fulbright & Jaworski, now Norton Rose Fulbright.

Bivins successfully represented Exxon Pipeline Co. in a series of eminent domain cases in Fort Bend County beginning in 1995. State records show her bar membership is now inactive.

Dewhurst has had financial bumps in the past, including the theft of millions of dollars from his campaign funds by a former campaign manager.

In 2014, two top aides resigned from Dewhurst’s campaign team in a squabble over strategy in running against Republican primary challenger Dan Patrick.

In 1982, Dewhurst’s Trans-Gulf Supply Co., an oil-drilling firm, filed for bankruptcy, owing creditors $7 million. 

His political action committee, the David Dewhurst Committee, is largely self-funded and has carried an outstanding loan since 2014 with a balance of $5.3 million to $6.1 million. 

Dewhurst told a reporter in his last days as lieutenant governor that he would consider a run for office again in the future. Around the same time, he told a Texas Monthly reporter that his terms as lieutenant governor cost him money.

Dewhurst is currently on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, headed by U.S. Energy Secretary — and former Texas governor — Rick Perry. 

Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].

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