Elected office is supposed to be about public service, not self-service–we are all fed up with politicians profiting off their position. Corruption is an egregious perversion of our constitutional republic and should be dealt with extremely harshly.  People are elected to first, foremost, and always represent the true owners of every elected seat, the voter’s citizens and taxpayers, and never just their own wallets.

While some progress has been made in the past couple of sessions, there is a lot of work to be done in our state legislature to pass real ethics reform. It’s sad how difficult it is to pass pro-taxpayer legislation, and the level of opposition is shocking.  Below is a list of reforms that would make a big impact in weeding out the disease of self-service in government:

  • End the unethical legislator-to-lobbyist pipeline and stop politicians from immediately becoming lobbyists after they leave office.
  • Close disclosure loopholes, where elected officials are able to hide how they are benefiting from government contracts by shifting the contracts to immediate family members, businesses they own a stake in, or trusts they are a beneficiary of.
  • Increase penalties for failure to disclose from a slap on the wrist to a felony.
  • Force all elected officials to disclose legal referral fees and if they represent a public pension.
  • Ensure that ethics disclosure laws apply to local government as well, and put in place enabling legislation for counties to pass their own criminally binding ethics laws.

When a politician profits off their position, it is the greatest violation of public trust.  Texans deserve servant leadership and transparency in their government.  We must send a clear message that politicians will no longer be protected by toothless ethics laws and massive loopholes that cover up corrupt behavior.  The true owners of each elected office, the voters, citizens, and taxpayers, deserve nothing less.

This is an outside commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to [email protected]

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