Most states — Texas included — don’t require enough financial disclosure from their top judges, according to a new report from the Center for Public Integrity.
The report gave Texas a grade of F and ranked it in a four-way tie for 32nd among the states and the District of Columbia. That puts Texas somewhere in the middle of the class, as only eight states scored better than F and only two states rated a C on the organization’s report card.
Disclosures required of federal judges were ranked the highest; the federal system got a B from the Center for Public Integrity.
The organization said the weak disclosure laws across the country make it difficult for the public to see conflicts of interest.
It based its grades on whether states require judges to disclose their household incomes, their investments (and those of their spouses and dependent children), gifts and reimbursements, and their liabilities, and whether they’re held accountable for filing reports and whether the reports are readily available to the public.
Texas got a score of 40 out of a possible 100 points. By comparison, California got a 77 and the federal system got an 84. Three states got zeroes: Idaho, Montana and Utah.
The report praised Texas for requiring some disclosures in each of the categories, but said the loopholes for dependents, spouses, gifts and investment holdings merited the failing grade.
It included the filings from the nine sitting justices of the Texas Supreme Court, and also one for Wallace Jefferson, who resigned as chief justice earlier this year. Those and the rankings for all 50 states can be found on the CPI website.
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