Texas Gov. Greg Abbott believes allegations that Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller misused state funds when he took two out-of-state trips a year ago should be investigated, a spokesman for the governor said on Thursday.
“The governor believes these allegations of misuse of taxpayer dollars warrant a thorough investigation by the Texas Rangers," said the spokesman, John Wittman.
On Wednesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety confirmed that the agency's Texas Rangers are conducting an investigation into whether Miller abused his position as commissioner by having the state pay for two trips — one to Oklahoma and another to Mississippi, in February 2015. Media reports have indicated Miller may have traveled for personal benefit.
The investigation follows criminal complaints made by the liberal advocacy group Progress Texas against the Stephenville Republican.
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Last month, the Houston Chronicle first reported Miller's trip to Oklahoma a year ago to obtain a "Jesus Shot," which some believe cures all pain for life. It is an anti-inflammatory injection of two drugs and a vitamin: Dexamethasone, Kenalog and vitamin B12. It's a popular pain treatment on the rodeo circuit.
Miller said he made the trip to Oklahoma so he could tour the Oklahoma National Stockyards and meet with state officials there. But when those officials were contacted by the Chronicle, they said they had no plans to meet with him that day.
Miller also traveled to Mississippi in February on the state's dime. While there, Miller, who is a calf roper, participated in the National Dixie Rodeo. When asked about the trip, the Agriculture Department gave contradictory reports to media outlets.
Two weeks after the Mississippi trip, Miller repaid the state for the trip. Miller told the Chronicle that the intent of the trip was to meet with agriculture officials there, making it a legitimate state-covered business trip. Miller said after those meetings fell through, he repaid the state for the trip with campaign funds because he also met with donors and advisers during that time.
Miller's story differed from that of his department, which told the Tribune the Mississippi trip was booked by mistake as a business trip by one of his staffers.