Tribpedia: Texas Ethics Commission

Tribpedia

The Texas Ethics Commission is responsible for administering and enforcing sections of the election code and other statutory provisions generally governing politics and ethics in the state.

Among its key duties is the collecting and maintaining of records related to political fundraising and spending, lobbying activity reports and the filing of personal financial disclosure statements by state elected officials and ...

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Time to Take a Look at Cutting Ethical Corners

It's been a long time since the Legislature took a good, hard look at its ethics laws and its own practices. They rewrote some laws after scandals in the early 1990s, and trimmed a lawyer/lawmaker perk 12 years later. With the Texas Ethics Commission up for review, a restive electorate and a herd of new lawmakers, they have a golden opportunity to do more.

For Ethics Commission, Big Hurdles to Reform

The Texas Ethics Commission, responsible for the accuracy of the more than 30,000 financial statements, campaign reports and lobbyist activity records filed annually in the state, stands poised for change this session. But any efforts to reform it will face a challenge, because the lawmakers the commission was set up to regulate are the ones setting the rules.

Texas Capitol's dome
Texas Capitol's dome

Ethics Commission Backs Off Investigative Power Plan

The Texas Ethics Commission backed off Thursday from a proposal to take some investigative authority away from the Travis County district attorney’s office, but the agency approved two recommendations aimed at enhancing criminal investigations of state elected officials.

State Rep. Charlie Geren, the head of the House Administration Committee, wrote a letter to his fellow House members saying that they were "under no legal obligation"to accommodate a Texas Tribune request to submit three years of tax returns.
State Rep. Charlie Geren, the head of the House Administration Committee, wrote a letter to his fellow House members saying that they were "under no legal obligation"to accommodate a Texas Tribune request to submit three years of tax returns.

With Transparency, There's Room to Improve

Lawmakers say they want transparency and that the public should be able to see their finances. But state disclosure requirements allow officeholders and candidates to report their financial interests vaguely enough to hide their interests.

Local Court Runoff Tests Judicial Campaign Fairness Act

A runoff for the state district court in Marshall, the Harrison County seat just east of Longview near the Louisiana border, has two Republicans slinging lawsuits and ethics complaints over provisions of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act. And some worry the race could set a trend that leads to more money and corruption in judicial campaigns.

Texas Gets a D+ in Public Integrity Study

Texas scored a 68 out of 100, coming in at 27th place in a national state integrity study. The state got high marks for auditing and for monitoring pension funds, but not as high for accountability of the governor and legislators.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, right, at a U.S. Senate candidate debate on Jan. 12, 2012.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, right, at a U.S. Senate candidate debate on Jan. 12, 2012.

Campaign Roundup: Political News for the Week of 1/18

Four of the state's top officeholders each raised more than $1 million during the second half of 2011. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for the U.S. Senate, raised $1.5 million for his federal campaign account in the fourth quarter alone. Attorney General Greg Abbott and Comptroller Susan Combs also tallied seven-figure totals. And Gov. Rick Perry raised $1 million for his state account.

On the Records: 2011's Top Political Donors

The 15 largest donors to Texas politicians and PACs gave a total of $4.7 million in the first six months of 2011, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of Texas Ethics Commission filings. The biggest beneficiary of their largesse: the Texans for Lawsuit Reform Political Action Committee. To see who gave what to which candidates and which PACs in the first half of the year, click here.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 5/30/11

Aaronson and Grissom on a freshman lawmaker who didn't mind making waves, Aguilar on E-Verify's new lease on life, Galbraith on the state's plodding progress toward solar power, Hamilton on Warren Chisum's exit, Philpott on the remapping of Lloyd Doggett's district, Ramsey on a proposed change to ethics laws for Texas pols, Ramshaw on efforts by the state to take control of Medicaid and Medicare, Root on why a Perry presidential bid shouldn't be underestimated, M. Smith on the unraveling of school finance legislation and Tan and Dehn on the highs and lows of the 82nd Legislative Session: The best of our best content from May 30 to June 3, 2011.

Rick Perry being interviewed by Evan Smith at Triblive in Austin
Rick Perry being interviewed by Evan Smith at Triblive in Austin

Perry Fined $1,500 by Ethics Commission

Gov. Rick Perry was fined $1,500 by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to report rental income from a house in College Station, and for filing incomplete information regarding debts on the same property, in personal financial statements required by state law.

Under Law, Lobbyist Conflicts Stay Private

Lobbyists are required by law to notify their clients if they represent two or more groups with clashing agendas. They are also required to notify the Texas Ethics Commission. Scores of lobbyists have done so in recent legislative sessions. What is not required is for the public or elected representatives to be informed.

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 10/4/10

Ramsey on whether Bill White at the top of the ballot helps Houston-area candidates, Aaronson and Stiles present a treemap of Texas political ads, Stiles and Ramsey on the latest campaign finance filings, Aguilar on the Laredo mayor's race, Hamilton on anonymous tweeters who make mischief, Ramshaw interviews a disability rights activist with a thing for iPads and bibles, Hu on the accidental release of Rick Perry's "secret" schedule, M. Smith on the bitter back-and-forth over a voter registration effort in Harris County, Philpott's micro-debate on education between two House candidates, Grissom on this week's twist in the Cameron Todd Willingham investigation and, in our latest collaboration with a big-city Texas newspaper, Stiles, Grissom and John Tedesco of the San-Antonio Express News on what kind of Texans, exactly, are applying to carry concealed handguns: The best of our best from Oct. 4 to 9, 2010.

A joint meeting between the House Elections and Judiciary committees on Aug. 26, 2010
A joint meeting between the House Elections and Judiciary committees on Aug. 26, 2010

Will SCOTUS Opinions Affect TX Judicial Elections?

Do two recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions have the far-reaching effects on Texas judicial elections that some in our legal community fear? Or do the state's current campaign finance laws adequately address the issues presented by both cases?

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of July 26, 2010

Stiles' and Torres' three-parter on the changing Texas political map, Ramsey on questions about Brian Birdwell's voting history and residency, Aguilar on the Obama administration's immigration crackdown, Reed on hospitals that won't induce early labor, Stiles on what Troy Fraser left off his financial disclosure form, the latest installment of Hu's Face-Off video debate series, Grissom on the problem-plagued Driver Responsibility Program, Galbraith on the controversy over fracking and M. Smith's interview with former Texas Supreme Court Justice Harriet O'Neill: The best of our best from July 26 to 30, 2010.