by Max Brantley
I've just moderated a discussion by a panel of legislators. I tried, but could elicit no support for legislation to end the wining and dining of legislators by lobbyists. You'd think it's impossible to talk to legislators without benefit of a cocktail. (It does help, I must admit.)
Anyway, it could be worse.
AUSTIN — A Texas official who receives any sum of cash as a gift can satisfy state disclosure laws by reporting the money simply as "currency" without specifying the amount, the Texas Ethics Commission reiterated Monday.
The 5-3 decision outraged watchdog groups and some officials who accused the commission of failing to enforce state campaign finance laws.
"What the Ethics Commission has done is legalize bribery in the state of Texas. We call on the commission to resign en masse," said Tom "Smitty" Smith, who heads Texas Citizen, an Austin-based group that advocates for campaign finance reform.
On another topic, I got a 5-0 vote from Sens. Farris, Broadway, Womack and Salmon and Sen.-elect Thompson that this legislature would vote to phase out the tax on food. I offered options of complete removal and no change.