An investigative report in Houston reveals State Rep. Jim Murphy (R–Houston) is profiting heavily from his role in managing tax-funded special purpose districts, and the method of his compensation only enhances the apparent conflicts of interest.
According to an investigation by KPRC, records show Murphy, through his consulting business District Managing Services, has been performing contract work with the Westchase District, a special purpose district that partially overlaps with House District 133, which Murphy currently represents in the Texas House.
The report shows Murphy is making $26,000 a month on his contract with the district – a jaw dropping $312,000 per year.
The problem? This arrangement appears to potentially violate the law, and has Murphy working against the taxpayers he is sent to Austin to represent.
According to state law, lawmakers cannot hold any other taxpayer-funded jobs. That would appear to include Murphy’s arrangement where he is listed in a number of different professional capacities including “general manager” and “consultant.”
Not only was Murphy being paid by the district, but he received bonuses as well for work that seems to be intertwined with his legislative duties. The report by KPRC noted this conflict of interest:
In 2014, Murphy’s contracts began to include bonuses called “special projects.” Some of the projects were categorized as “top priority” and some as “secondary priority. “In some cases, the bonuses were awarded to Murphy for securing funding– not for his constituents, but for the district that cuts his check. In fact, Murphy can earn up to $6,000 if he is able to secure $1 million or more from the Texas Department of Transportation for highway projects.
Adding to the controversy is the fact that Murphy was appointed by Texas House Speaker Joe Straus to chair the House Committee on Special Purpose Districts. As chair, Murphy had the responsibility of reviewing and approving districts all while profiting heavily from one.
After Murphy fled thirteen floors down the stairs to avoid answering questions, Mario Diaz, a reporter for KPRC News, finally confronted Murphy about the financial arrangement outside his house. An aloof Murphy attempted to dodge questions about who he truly represents, finally stating, “Well, clearly we are representing the district when I am doing district stuff or the state when I am doing state stuff.”
The KPRC report, including Murphy’s confrontation, is available below:
Murphy’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.