Thomas Ratliff is the newest member of the Texas State Board of Education and he was under attack Don McLeroy who lost his seat on the board to Ratliff.
McLeroy claims that as a lobbyist Ratliff has a conflict of interest and is breaking the law in Texas regarding lobbyists.
The full report, including the letter from Susan Oswalt, with the Public Integrity Unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office, is located here.
The conclusion of the lawyer is that no law has been broken. Ratliff has amended all of his lobbying contracts with specific statements that ha cannot lobby to the school board, and has publicly listed the companies he’s involved with and recused himself twice already from votes to avoid any implication of impropriety.
Finally, there is an apparent law that may have been broken.
“Conspicuously left out of this opinion letter is the real issue; whether or not a state law has been violated. This is about the Rule of Law. Subsection 7. 1 03(c) provides that a person “may not serve as a member of the board” if that person is subject to registration as a lobbyist “by virtue of the person’s activities for compensation in or on behalf of a profession, business or association related to the operation of the board,” she said.
An opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s Office is expected in April. Unfortunately, from the information in the article, I am unable to locate the statute listed. Here’s the entire text of Texas Laws. If anyone else knows what she’s talking about, let me know.
If you want my totally useless opinion… even if the action is technically illegal, the letter from Travis County indicates that a lobbyist has served in the past. The precedent, therefore is to let it slide. So, even if this goes to court, I doubt a judge will let it stand because they precedent is for it to be OK.
Maybe the forces arrayed against anti-science politicians can win one with laws on our side for once.
P.S. Many thanks to the Sensuous Curmudgeon for the hat tip.