Most Texans are surprised to learn that some state and local officials work as lobbyists for private interests while simultaneously serving in public office.

For example, outgoing State Board of Education member Thomas Ratliff continued to lobby the legislature on behalf of Microsoft while he was in office. Ratliff had oversight over school curriculum while his employer sold digital materials to Texas schools.

No man can serve two masters. A public official is elected to represent the interests of their constituents. They cannot simultaneously represent the interests of a private business in lobbying state or local governments.

Genuine ethics reform will eliminate this conflict of interest by making it illegal for public officials to accept compensation from private interests to serve as a lobbyist while they are in office.

Similarly, ethics reform should include a cooling off period that prevents former elected officials from leaving office and immediately going to work as lobbyists on behalf of private interests. We must end the revolving door between public office and the lobby.

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