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The Texas Ethics Commission regulates speech regarding legislation, elections, and public officials.

Established decades ago in order to set per diem allowances and recommend pay raises for lawmakers, it has repeatedly increased its own power by fiat and uses it against the grassroots. Texans who find themselves in front of the TEC are subjected to a seemingly endless cycle of harassment and abuse. Hiring the lawyers to fight back can easily lead to bankruptcy.

Lawmakers should examine the TEC’s procedures, and implement safeguards typically found in the criminal justice system to ensure the agency can no longer violate Texans’ rights.

  • The TEC should be subject to the same Speedy Trial Act requirements placed on courts in criminal prosecutions. Currently, TEC investigations and prosecutions can go on for years – something we don’t tolerate in the criminal prosecution context.
  • TEC proceedings should be taken out of the shadows and opened up so that citizens can see what transpires in the agency’s hearings.
  • TEC respondents should have the full right to legal counsel, including the right to subpoena witnesses and documents in order to prepare a defense.
  • Respondents should also have the right to file a general demurrer at the administrative stage and immediately have a court review the legal sufficiency of the TEC’s case against them.

Implementing these reforms would help restore Texans’ 14th Amendment rights while at the same time allowing serious issues substantive review. Texans are fed up with instruments of government being used to punish those who choose to engage in government.

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