Skip to main content

Judge Tosses Ethics Case Against Conservative Activist

A Denton County judge on Wednesday afternoon dismissed a ruling by the Texas Ethics Commission that Empower Texans President Michael Quinn Sullivan had failed to register as a lobbyist in 2010 and 2011.

Ted Cruz, left, then a U.S. Senate candidate, speaks with Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texas at the state Republican ...

A Denton County judge on Wednesday afternoon dismissed a ruling by the Texas Ethics Commission that Empower Texans President Michael Quinn Sullivan had failed to register as a lobbyist in 2010 and 2011.

The ruling came after a four-hour hearing, according to Joe Nixon, an attorney for Sullivan. 

Sullivan had requested that the district judge to conduct a de novo review, meaning that the district court disregards the commission's proceedings and starts the case over from scratch.

The twist here was Sullivan’s decision to request the review in Denton County rather than Travis County, where much of the litigation between him and the Ethics Commission has taken place.

Sullivan announced in late August that he was moving to Denton County, a day before his filing papers there asking for dismissal of the ethics ruling. State law allows for an appeal to an Ethics Commission ruling to be filed in Travis County or the county in which the respondent resides.

His Denton County residency was subsequently questioned by attorneys for the Ethics Commission, but the judge ruled on Wednesday that Sullivan’s choice of venue was proper.

The Texas Tribune Member Drive Fall 2020 banner

This public-service journalism is made possible by readers like you.

Donate now