Recent letters, King running a positive campaign and Is Joe Tison a Democrat? in the Wise County Messenger sing the praises of Phil King saying he “is a man of strong moral principles.” Where have these people been? Are they so entirely partisan that they don’t care how completely unethical King is?
His gas purchases are over $9000 including fill ups at Randalls for over $100 each. (That must be a hell of a big gas tank.) Plane travel is over $11,200. $45,000 for “Accommodations expense”, over $10,000 for “meeting expenses” and over $2700 for “office meals and refreshments”.
But the most interesting is his “Public Relations” bill of over $97,000. This includes $4990 for “Public Relations” at the Capitol Gift, $5200 to Retriever Sporting Clays Inc for “Public Relations”, and $14,000 for Kevin Brannon for “Public Relations” . By the way, Kevin Brannon is a political fundraiser, not a “Public Relations”.
King’s latest lapse in ethics is downright illegal. First King told the Star-Telegram that a CenterPoint lobbyist didn’t pay for his luxury box seats to the Super Bowl.
Oopsie! CenterPoint reported in 2004 to the Texas Ethics Commission that $876.30 was spent on King and his son during the Super Bowl game.
Suddenly, King’s story changes and he admits that, yeah, he took the tickets from the CenterPoint lobbyist.
It appears, as Vince at Capitol Annex discovered, that King and CenterPoint’s lobbyist, Rozzell, have both broken the law.
More interesting, it appears that lobbyist Rozelle violated the law in entertaining King and his son, and that King may have violated the law by accepting the tickets and hospitality. Texas Government Code 305.024 states:
(a) Except as provided by Section 305.025, a person registered under Section 305.005 or a person on the registrant’s behalf and with the registrant’s consent or ratification may not offer, confer, or agree to confer:
(2) to an individual described by Section 305.0062(a)(1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), or (7):
(B) an expenditure or series of expenditures for entertainment that in the aggregate exceed $500 in a calendar year;
(C) an expenditure or series of expenditures for gifts that in the aggregate exceed $500 in a calendar year;
By Rozelle’s own admission, he states he spent well over $800 on King and his son. Subsection (B) above clearly allows no more than $500 of such expenditures per calendar year. Furthermore, it is difficult to see how (C) above wasn’t violated in an even more significant fashion, since, according to USA Today, the average price of a Super Bowl ticket in 2004 was $2,606. Even if the company had the tickets free through a sponsorship or other agreement, the value of the tickets far exceeded $500.00 on the open market.
A gift is illegal if it makes the lobbyist’s total expenditures for gifts to a particular state officer or employee, or immediate family or guest invited by a state officer or employee, exceed $500 in that calendar year.
Food, Entertainment, Transportation, & Lodging: Benefits in the form of food, lodging, transportation, or entertainment are permissible if accepted as a “guest” and reported in accordance with any applicable reporting requirement. To accept something as a guest, the donor must be present. As to reporting requirements, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor and members of the legislature are required to file annual personal financial statements on which they must report certain gifts worth more than $250. For most state employees there is no applicable reporting requirement.
King is mighty tight with the utility companies and, since he has clearly given CenterPoint advantages, the DA could prosecute. This could be, for the lobbyist up to a Class A misdemeanor and could constitute legislative bribery for King.
As Vince also discovered, King is having a fundraiser at Rozzell’s $1.2 million home. Read the details at Capitol Annex