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Judge Reaffirms Dismissal of Ethics Ruling Against Conservative Activist

A new judge Wednesday reaffirmed the dismissal of a ruling by the Texas Ethics Commission against conservative power broker Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Republican activist Michael Quinn Sullivan visits at the State Republican Convention trade show on June 6, 2014.

*Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from a Texas Ethics Commission attorney.

A new judge has reaffirmed the dismissal of a ruling by the Texas Ethics Commission against conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan.

The decision came after a hearing that lasted over an hour Wednesday, according to Empower Texans, the group led by Sullivan. 

Last year, the Ethics Commission fined Sullivan for failing to register as a lobbyist in 2010 and 2011. Sullivan challenged the ruling in Denton County district court, where Judge Steve Burgess last month tossed the case.

Amid questions about his impartiality, Burgess was removed this month and replaced by David Cleveland. On Wednesday, Cleveland signed a two-page order again dismissing the commission's ruling. 

Joe Nixon, Sullivan's lead counsel, said the latest decision leaves no doubt where the court stands on the case. 

"The commission was flat-out wrong, which has now been twice affirmed," Nixon said in a statement.

Eric Nichols, an attorney for the commission, said it plans to appeal Cleveland's ruling to the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth.

Cleveland also ruled Wednesday that the commission did not owe Sullivan any attorneys' fees, a move the activist had requested and the commission had opposed. 

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