Texas Ethics Commission Sidelines Greg Abbott; Puts AG Back in Perry Indictment Spotlight

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The Texas Ethics Commission is seeking $150,000 for outside council in a lawsuit against the unelected Tea Party leader Michael Quinn Sullivan because it doesn’t trust Attorney General Greg Abbott to hold his close friend accountable.

The Attorney General is tasked to represent state agencies, but the Ethics Commission seems to think the relationship between MQS and the Attorney General’s office is a little too close for comfort, and I mean, they are the state’s ethical watchdog.

San Antonio Express – News reporter David Saleh Rauf published an article laying out the conflicts of interest noting that, “The move to hire an outside law firm adds a new layer of political intrigue to a case that’s already become one of the most highly publicized in the commission’s roughly two-decade history.

There are several important political implications here. As Rauf reports, if the case continues into next year and Ken Paxton wins the election for Attorney General, the Commission’s case would be in the hands of someone who would much more likely be sympathetic to Sullivan than the agency he is supposed to represent.

Empower Texans, the group headed by MQS, has donated close to $375,000 and guaranteed a $1 million loan to GOP Attorney General candidate Ken Paxton’s campaign who himself was fined by the Texas State Securities Board for soliciting clients without being properly registered.

According to the Rauf’s report AG Abbott’s office and Sullivan’s legal team believe it is still the job of Abbott to cover the case, and it’s not the first time MQS fought to put a major political football in Abbott’s jurisdiction.  

Earlier this month Michael Quinn Sullivan himself wrote an article on Breitbart defending Rick Perry against his recent indictment and damning the Republicans who refused to put the the Public Integrity Unit under the control of the Attorney General’s office. “If these Republicans had not joined with the Democrats, Perry would not have had to exercise his line-item veto,” Sullivan argued. Governor Perry’s veto of the funds for the PIU is a major component of the felony indictments against him.

The vote that has Sullivan chapped was on an Amendment to Senate Bill 219, that would “transfer the duties and responsibilities of the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County district attorney’s office to the office of the attorney general,” along with the appropriated funds.

One of the most reliably conservative members, David Simpson of Longview, defended his vote against transferring the PIU to the AG and away from the Travis County by saying, “I voted against the measure because: (1) it was unconstitutional and (2) fraught with unintended consequences.”

He continued saying,

    It perplexes me that the same people who are decrying the actions of the Ethics Commission are also questioning the votes of members who opposed granting the Commission an unconstitutional task….The indictment of Governor Perry may appear to be vindictive and politically motivated based merely on public statements. If there is no more evidence than what is public, the indictment seems to me to be a misuse of the justice system for political purposes-much like the intent of the politically charged and unconstitutional amendment.”

He closed his case like any good Tea Party patriot would, with a quote by a founding father, “[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.” – Samuel Adams, Essay in The Public Advertiser, 1749″

Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

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