Rep. Joe Driver Stole From Texas Taxpayers and Is Lying to Cover It Up

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Yesterday, Rep. Joe Driver got caught stealing thousands of taxpayer dollars. Following the playbook of Linda Harper-Brown, Driver has since gone on the offensive against the media and — like Linda Harper-Brown — begun a campaign to discredit the news story and the basic facts therein. Though he has no video for his “I Am Not a Crook Moment” like Linda Harper-Brown did, Joe Driver is now lying and trying to cover up the fact that he stole thousands of dollars from Texas taxpayers. I will now, very clearly, lay out how simple it is to recognize that Joe Driver stole from Texas taxpayers, and lay out very clearly how he is lying to cover it up.

Rep. Joe Driver Stole From Texas Taxpayers

No matter how hard he tries to spin it otherwise, Rep. Joe Driver can't deny these basic facts:

  1. Rep. Joe Driver paid for his travel to “luxury hotels, airline tickets, meals, fees and incidentals” with campaign funds.

  2. Rep. Joe Driver then billed the state — or, considering he'd already been paid back with campaign funds, outright stole from taxpayers — for the exact same travel expenses. It is important to understand the order: first the campaign paid for his travel, then he billed the state. It is outright impossible to not know that is wrong — he's getting covered twice for something he only paid for once.

  3. Rep. Joe Driver has been in office for 18 years. In the last five years alone, he stole at least $17,431.55 from taxpayers.

It's that simple. You cannot be refunded twice for a payment you only made once. I know Rep. Driver didn't want to be on the House Appropriations Committee because he is “Just not a numbers guy” but this is pretty basic arithmetic.

Rep. Joe Driver stole from Texas taxpayers. That is a factual statement, and it is one that Democrats will hammer home against Driver for the next 77 days.

Rep. Joe Driver Is Now Lying to Cover It Up

Once the professional spin team reached him, Driver began lashing out against the media. It started by his releasing the following response to the AP story on Facebook:

Please take a moment to read Joe's statement on today's misleading AP story.

Characterizing the story as “misleading” is a lie. There is nothing misleading about the story, as I laid out above. Now let's look at his actual response – specifically, where he tries to claim a defense, but in fact only digs himself into a much, much deeper hole:

“…Despite the impression left by the AP story, NO expenses were incorrectly billed to the State of Texas. Any and all expenses were proper. My mistake was in not reimbursing my campaign for expenditures it covered while I was on State business. This was completely unintentional and I am correcting it immediately.

[SNIP]

“Two things I can state with certainty on this issue:  not one tax dollar was misspent due to my mistake on this and any mistakes that were made are being corrected immediately.”

Here's why his statement, especially the parts in bold I've highlighted above, are lies:

  1. Rep. Driver claims not one tax dollar was misspent due to his mistake. That is a lie. It is against the law to double-dip like he has done, and he deserves to be punished accordingly.
  2. Rep. Driver further claims that his state office should have sent taxpayer dollars to his campaign for reimbursement. That is also illegal and completely, completely wrong, and quite possibly worse than his first suggestion. A State House Representative cannot send tax dollars from his State Office to reimburse his campaign account. If he is on State Business, then the state pays for it. If he is on campaign business, the campaign pays for it. IT'S THAT SIMPLE, JOE.

Rep. Joe Driver stole from Texas taxpayers, and now he is lying to cover it up. Like Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, he has abused the privileges of his office and betrayed the trust his constituents placed in him. Rep. Joe Driver must pay back every tax dollar he stole, and he should never return to public office again.

Previously on BOR:

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About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.

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