“If you are untouchable, we’ve got a problem,” Sen. Brian Birdwell told the chairman of the commission, which is charged with making sure public officials and campaigns obey state ethics and elections laws.
Tom “Smitty” Smith, a colorful lobbyist and liberal activist who turned Public Citizen Texas into a strong voice on environmental, utility, consumer and ethics issues, is hanging up his spurs after 31 years.
Commissioners are trying to open so-called “campaign in a box” disclosures, where candidates report their spending on consultants — but not on the specific campaign services those consultants are providing.
The state is trying to regulate what some have called the “campaign in a box,” when a candidate reports writing one big check to a consultant, who then handles all of the campaign spending off the books.
It's harder to appoint people to the Texas Ethics Commission than to other agencies. The politics are difficult. But it's also easy to just let it slide — and let commissioners serve for years after their terms end.
Politicians like to think of the money in their campaign accounts as their own. It's not, but sometimes, it seems that way. Below are five actual cases where the Texas Ethics Commission has rendered its official position. Take the test: Given these situations, what do you think they can get away with?
The governor and lawmakers promise to reignite their efforts to tighten ethics laws in Texas, but they have so far been missing a key incentive to make reluctant officeholders go along: public interest.