Murky Rules for Lawmaker-Lobbyist Ties

State Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, is well aware that registered lobbyists are fellow investors in two politically connected banks he owns stock in. So when he fills out his annual financial statement, he discloses them as investments “in common” with lobbyists.

But two lawmakers with stakes and roles in the same financial institutions — Rep. Dan Flynn and Sen. Kirk Watson — came to different conclusions. They didn’t report the lobbyist connections to the Texas Ethics Commission, which generally requires lawmakers to identify such arrangements.

The varying interpretations, stemming from loopholes and legal ambiguity, highlight a major weakness in the ...

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