May 07, 2004
GOP accuses Laney

The state GOP has filed an ethics complaint against Democratic State Rep and former House Speaker Pete Laney, alleging that he used campaign contributions improperly as reimbursement for his personal plane.

Republicans have repeatedly attacked Laney on the issue since 1996, but this is the first known time the party has filed a formal complaint against him.

Laney, who still represents his Hale Center district in the House, said he has never done anything illegal in paying for his airplane with campaign donations.

"My political opponents made this same attack against me in 1996 and 2001, and there was no substance to their claims then or now," Laney said. "My campaign funds have always been handled in total compliance with the laws and rules of our state."

The formal complaint, filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, centers on Laney's use of nearly $1.7 million in campaign funds since 1995 to operate and maintain his private airplane.

"These outrageous sums simply don't pass the smell test," said Texas GOP Chairman Tina Benkiser.

Karen Lundquist, executive director of the Texas Ethics Commission, said state law requires that she neither confirm nor deny that such a complaint has been filed.

A search of the commission's Web site found no record of the commission ever acting on a complaint against Laney since 1996.

"If the commission finds credible evidence of a violation, the order would be on the Web site," Lundquist said.

Whatever. Seems to me that if they've been complaining since 1996, either there's no evidence of any wrongdoing or he's really really good at covering it up. One wonders, if the Ethic Commission finds Laney to be in violation, if there will suddenly be a Republican clamor to give it some actual enforcement capabilities. Needless to say, I won't be holding my breath in anticipation. Lastly, you'll forgive me, I trust, if I guffaw indelicately at Ms. Benkhiser's shock at the incredibly large sum of $1.7 million. We all know how uncomfortable the state GOP is around money, after all.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 07, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack