AUSTIN (AP) - Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick is in business
with a lobbyist but can't say who. Fellow Rep. Sid Miller finally
disclosed his lobbyist dealings, but only after someone complained.
They are among the Texas legislators whose day jobs intersect
with state government interests. Watchdog groups says such
arrangements create too-common conflicts of interest that should at
least be fully disclosed, if not barred outright.
Craddick is a Midland Republican who wields tremendous influence
in state government. He revealed in recent disclosure filings that
he and a registered lobbyist have common business interests.
The law requires that Craddick list the company involved - in
this case development company Centro Caswell, LLC. But Craddick
isn't required to name the lobbyist. Spokeswoman Alexis DeLee said
Craddick doesn't know who it is.
Miller, a Stephenville Republican, has ownership in a political
and commercial phone bank company that was co-founded by A-list
lobbyist and consultant Todd Smith.
Miller and Smith's business relationship isn't illegal but he's
supposed to disclose it - and didn't. Miller corrected his
disclosure forms on September 25th. That was the day after a
supporter of his Democratic opponent signed a complaint filed with
the Texas Ethics Commission. Miller called it an oversight.
Craig Holman of the liberal watchdog group Public Citizen called
the failure to provide details of lawmaker-lobbyists deals "almost
An Austin grand jury slammed the state's weak disclosure rules
in 2006. In a rare public report, the panel complained it couldn't
get to the bottom of corruption allegations because of toothless
Texas ethics laws.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)