My name is Jeremy Newman, I am the Policy Director for the Texas Home School Coalition. THSC has had extensive experience with the Texas Ethics Commission’s practices over the last 5 years and I hope to shed some light on that for you.
The TEC has become an agency that struggles for relevance by setting regulatory traps that ensnare Texans whose only mistake was to think they could freely participate in the political process. THSC has experienced this corruption first-hand. The TEC’s legitimate functions have become increasingly difficult to find amid the mire of political favoritism and malicious punishment by process inflicted on everyday Texans.
As one example, THSC was fined $1900 by the TEC because we self-corrected a report, within two weeks of the deadline, to show that we actually spent $65 less during the reporting period than we initially recorded. When THSC contested the fine, we were denied; and one member suggested at the hearing we should have been fined $16,000 instead, the full amount we had spent in that reporting period.
At the same meeting, the TEC voted to reduce the fine to a state legislator for a report that was six months late from $10,000 to $1,000. After giving the state legislator a 90%, $9,000 fine reduction the TEC finally took a token $600 off of THSC’s fine that we had received for self-reporting a $65 error.
The TEC is now asking for an increase in their litigation budget. What they don’t tell you is that they face increased litigation costs because they are drowning Texans in frivolous litigation over patently unconstitutional regulations. The TEC has adopted numerous regulations which they knew from the beginning to be constitutionally prohibited and which they openly discussed in their meetings as something they would simply let the court sort out. Not only did the TEC punt on its own ethical responsibilities to follow the U.S. Constitution, it is now asking this body to pass on the cost of those decisions to the taxpayers who the TEC’s regulations have also been designed to ensnare.
The TEC is already forcing law-abiding Texans to pay endless fines and litigation costs simply to participate in the political process. Now the TEC is asking for the taxpayers to pay extra for its bills as well.
The TEC’s unethical practices are best summed up by a quote from a Wall Street Journal article discussing THSC”s litigation against the Ethics Commission’s abusive regulations, “The real goal of the [Texas] Ethics Commission. . . is to reduce the influence of critics and expose donors to political intimidation. Here’s an opportunity to vindicate citizen participation and accountability in government, which is what politicians fear the most.”
Thank you for your time and I strongly urge you to reject this proposal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.