January 11, 2004
Dems want Phil Gramm investigated

And to complete my Sunday Scandals Trifecta, state Democrats are asking that former Senator Phil Gramm be investigated for breaking a lobbying law.

AUSTIN -- Texas Democrats have asked Travis County prosecutors, as well as the Texas Ethics Commission, to investigate allegations that former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm has lobbied illegally for policy changes affecting retired schoolteachers, state Democratic Chairman Charles Soechting said Saturday.

Soechting told a meeting of the state party's executive committee that a copy of a complaint filed late Friday with the Texas Ethics Commission was sent to Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle's office.

The Ethics Commission complaint alleges that Gramm broke a state law requiring him to register as a lobbyist before seeking changes in state law or rules necessary to get the new retirement scheme adopted.

Gramm, a vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank, has declined to comment. He joined UBS after leaving the Senate in December 2002 and last year started helping Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials promote a UBS plan to put more money into the Teacher Retirement System of Texas.

A check of Ethics Commission records indicated that Gramm hasn't registered as a lobbyist in Texas since leaving the Senate.

Should the Ethics Commission act on the Democratic complaint and determine that Gramm broke the law, the maximum penalty would be a civil fine of $5,000.

Earle was unavailable for comment Saturday.

Under the UBS proposal, the pension plan would buy annuities and life insurance policies on retired teachers and keep the proceeds when they die.

In a written presentation, UBS has said the state would need to make "large and small legal and regulatory changes" to adopt the proposal.

Soechting, a San Marcos lawyer, said the plan was a "huge, get-rich-quick scheme on the part of Phil Gramm and his buddies" in the investment and insurance industries.

Quite the busy week it's been, hasn't it?

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack