Gov. Greg Abbott wanted the Texas Legislature to improve the state’s ethical conduct rules.
The first-term governor didn’t get anything close to what he wanted. Indeed, the just-concluded legislative session drew some barbs from members of the Texas Ethics Commission. And when those guys ding you, well, you’ve been dinged.
It appears that the Legislature went the other way. According to former Ethics panel chairman Jim Clancy, some bills awaiting Abbott’s signature “scare me to death.”
One of them makes it easier for political spouses’ financial statements to be hidden. According to the Texas Tribune, the bill repeals an earlier reform aimed at requiring such disclosure.
Nicely done, legislators. Just kidding, of course.
The Texas ethical code is pretty loose as it is. Lawmakers can leave public office and move directly into lobbying positions, where they can persuade their former legislative pals to back bills in the best interests of the new lobbyists’ clients. Cooling-off period? Forget about it.
The governor can try again in 2017 when the next Legislature returns. He’ll have logged some time in office. Perhaps he can use that time to persuade his friends in the Legislature that he really means it.
Reform, improve and tighten the state’s ethical code, or else. What’s more, Gov. Abbott, make the “or else” mean something.