. Belle’s seen one House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, blog thinks it’s seen ’em all. sure, at the House Appropriations S/C on Articles VI, VII & VIII on Monday, February 20, Belle paid close attention to every little detail regarding how TxDOT plans to spend those sweet, sweet Prop. 1 (2014) and Prop. 7 (2013) Texeros during the AM edition. (no, toll roads are not on the docket. simmer down.) but the shock out of the fizzle came during the testimony by the Texas Lottery Commission–of all people!
this is not meant to imply that TLC (best acronym since they decided the Texas History Commission should be known as “THC” page 92) is not doing their job–they are and very well: securing nearly $1.3B for the Permanent School Fund (PSF) and $14.7M for the Fund for Veterans Assistance in FY2016, like you do on page 154. no, it was a little more
sinister stupid than that: Ken “we saw God in the McKinny DQ” Paxton has decided that he wears the pants when it comes to charitable raffles!
. during the 84th Legislative Session, the lege passed HB 975 which authorized pro sportsball teams to hold raffles at their games with the intent to benefit charitable organizations associated with the teams like the Arlington Youth Foundation which is associated with Them Cowboys or Silver & Black Give Back related to San Antonio’s NBA, AHL teams and Austin’s NBA Developmental League. during the debate, it was generally agreed that to ensure they didn’t decide “operating expenses” were ALL THE THINGS someone should check their books from time to time and, according to the enrolled bill (aka the version that is now law):
(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the actor reasonably believed that the conduct:
(1) was permitted under Chapter 2001, Occupations Code;
(2) was permitted under Chapter 2002, Occupations Code;
(3) was permitted under Chapter 2004, Occupations Code;
(4) consisted entirely of participation in the state lottery authorized by the State Lottery Act (Chapter 466, Government Code); (5)A[(4)]AAwas permitted under the Texas Racing Act (Article 179e, Vernon ’s Texas Civil Statutes); or
(6) [(5)] consisted entirely of participation in a drawing for the opportunity to participate in a hunting, fishing, or other recreational event conducted by the Parks and Wildlife Department.
. it may not seem like it, but all those chapters of the occupations code and TPWD–with the exception of the Texas Racing Act–all go back to the same place: TLC. they are the regulators of games of chance and they will continue to do so–until Paxton decides, “not so much!” and “don’t tell mom!”
. let’s review the video:
at 52:40, Rep. Ron “The Purple Guy” Simmons (R – ‘bortion’s ain’t purple) asks LBB’s new most adorable analyst how that whole sportsball raffle thing is goin’. Chair Larry Gonzales (R – RR Chamber of Commerce) said they’d ask the agency.
at 1:13:35, Alfonso Royal, Director of the Bingo Division which usually does all the localized charitable events, said the Charitable Raffle Act goes through the OAG.
. huh! someone tell the Charitable Raffle Enabling Act, because it only thought the OAG, like DAs or CAs, could take action–not get all up in its records keeping like TLC is supposed to. they’re supposed to represent state agencies like TLC, not do their jobs for them. that’s a nifty trick and one wonders what the purpose may be.
. for those who haven’t been following, the Texas Tribune created a nifty tracker for all things Ken Paxton as his shenanigans have gotten…well, complicated. even though the SEC’s amended charges were just thrown out of court (boo, hiss and all that jazz), his state court case will begin on 5/1/2017 and it will be costly.
. this is where Belle gets suspicious–AG Paxton has been smacked down by the Texas Ethics Commission twice for his methods of finance.
. first, they told him he could not use campaign funds because donations could represent a reimbursement for services rendered or a down payment on future unspecified favors–it relates to a long standing interpretation of the personal purposes clause of campaign finance law and was requested by none other than then AG John Cornyn in 1995. (it should be noted that when then Gov. Good Hair decided to pay for his legal defense out of campaign funds for political bribery in 2015 he had already tried to bill the state–which you can’t do until you’re found innocent and the charges relate to your official duties–and was reimbursing the state while running for nothing at all…so it’s a sliding scale of justice.)
. then, despite the Trib outlining how having a legal defense fund would run him afoul of the same laws, he did anyway and TEC had to limit him to raising funds from in-state entities that his office is not currently investigating. one would think this doesn’t need to be spelled out, but then most people wouldn’t accept $100 thousand from a company before ensuring that company was not being investigated by his office. most people are not AG Paxton.
. the newest twists in the sad tale of AG Paxton’s legal defense is that a citizens action group which is sick of this bullshit is trying to get the court to deny payment to the special prosecutors as the county, not the state, is liable for the cost now that the PUI has been moved from the Travis Co. DA’s office where the unit was reimbursed by the state as a matter of course. unintended consequences anyone? and he’s also so desperate that he used his communications staff to taint the jury pool by waging an extended social media campaign–something tells Belle that this was a misuse of state funds as well.
. this is all to say: