A former state representative with close ties to embattled house speaker Dade Phelan is under investigation by the Texas Ethics Commission for potentially violating a 2019 ethics law he helped write.

According to the Texas Observer, former State Rep. Chris Paddie, who resigned from the legislature to become a lobbyist in 2022, faces scrutiny over a series of political donations he made from an old campaign account shortly before his resignation. According to the TEC, those donations violate a 2019 law prohibiting former lawmakers from lobbying for two years after donating to colleagues.

Paddie had attempted to come back into compliance with the law by reimbursing the campaign account from personal funds.

Paddie now faces a wide-ranging TEC investigation over allegations of “illegal lobbying.” The TEC has subpoenaed nearly three years’ worth of records from Paddie, despite the alleged illegal lobbying occurring during a three-month window in late 2022 and early 2023. Paddie’s attorney claims that the TEC’s document requests “[go] beyond the scope of the complaint.”

This is hardly the first time Paddie’s activities in this area have come under criticism. Paddie was the Phelan-appointed chairman of the powerhouse State Affairs Committee during his final session in the legislature in 2021.

In that position, Paddie ran point on the Texas House’s response to that year’s winter storm-related power outages. Paddie passed what was widely perceived as a watered, industry-friendly, set of reforms. Lt. Governor Patrick blasted Paddie as a lawmaker, then banned Paddie from his office once he became a lobbyist.

The potentially unsavory nature of Paddie’s activities does not absolve the TEC.

Attorney Tony McDonald, who has extensive experience with the Texas Ethics Commission, blasted the agency’s handling of this case:

If the guy who helped write the bill can’t figure out how to comply with it, what hope do ordinary Texans have if dragged in front of the TEC? As we see in the Paddie case, Texas’ secret speech police claim the power to impose fines of nearly a half million dollars, and they can drag out their investigations indefinitely. These issues should be litigated in real courts, not in secret tribunals.

The TEC investigation of Paddie remains ongoing.

Adam Cahn

Adam is a longtime conservative activist and an avid UT and Yankees fan.