In open court today the attorney for the Texas Ethics Commission made a startling admission: his clients didn’t want to give up the tape of the August hearing because they were afraid Texans might hear it.

In a hearing this morning, a Travis County judge said he would allow the Texas Ethics Commission to continue with their hearings tomorrow despite the state agency not providing Texans for Fiscal Responsibility with the recordings made of a previous hearing.

On the tape, Texans would hear the Ethics Commission staff admit that it had no evidence against us. They don’t want to release the tape for the same reason they didn’t want to open the hearing to the public, at our request, in the first place.

And it is why they decided to put the hearing on hold, because after 20 months of ‘investigation’ they had no evidence of wrong-doing.

But evidence was never their point. Two moderate politicians, Jim Keffer and Vicki Truitt, began this abuse of the state’s ethics process as an attempt to silence us. Indeed, when the complaints against me were filed more than a year and half ago, we weren’t contacted by the Ethics Commission, but by Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune, who had the complaints before we did.

We immediately filed for an expedited hearing, which was ignored by the Commission while Jim Keffer, Vicki Truitt and their allies have used the ‘investigation’ as an excuse to tarnish my name and reputation. When they finally got around to having their hearing in August, we asked for it to be opened to the public, but Commission Chairman Jim Clancy refused to do so on the notion that the complainants had to be present and agree.

Of course, we had subpoenaed Keffer and Truitt – but they ignored the subpoena. Mr. Keffer apparently ignored it on the advice of the Ethics Commission’s executive director, David Reisman, who is not licensed to practice law in Texas. That legal advice was made in a letter Jim Keffer sent to the press but which the Ethics Commission has neglected to provide us.

It has become increasingly obvious to me that the Ethics Commission has decided that everyone in the state who speaks politically should go through them. The Ethics Commission has become an outlaw agency, selectively persecuting those who don’t toe the line of the legislative leadership.

Like a protection racket run by the mob, the Ethics Commission apparently thought we’d quietly pay up to make this go away. They thought wrongly, and picked on the wrong set of Texans.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."