October 23, 2008
Making financial disclosures public


For years the Texas Legislature has resisted calls to publish politicians' personal financial information on the Internet. But the modern world caught up with state lawmakers today, when a fledgling watchdog group posted the disclosures online.

Texas Watchdog, a nonpartisan organization that uses public records to pull back the curtain on state government, obtained scanned copies of the financial disclosures for the major state officeholders and published them on its Web site.

Before the forms were only available on paper at the state Ethics Commission in Austin.

"If the public can't easily get at these records, they don't do voters and taxpayers much good," said Trent Seibert, editor of Texas Watchdog. "Through this site, Texas residents will be able to keep a close eye on public officials and sound the alarm if they spot a conflict of interest."

Closer, anyway. As the story notes, there are still large areas of secrecy and obfuscation - Tom Craddick's mystery lobbyist client and David Dewhurst's trust fund, for example. In addition, as we learned through the Bill Ceverha saga, it's not just elected officials who have something to hide in their finances. But this is a good start, and kudos to the Texas Watchdog for undertaking it.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 23, 2008 to Show Business for Ugly People
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