To no one’s surprise, in the wake of the Morning News story about Judge Sharon Keller’s lack of financial disclosure as required by law, Texans for Public Justice has filed complaints against her. From their press release (PDF):
TPJ’s complaints follow up on revelations recently reported by the Dallas Morning News. Officials who fail to comply with Texas’ personal-financial disclosure laws are subject to a Texas Ethics Commission fine of up to $10,000. Travis County Attorney David Escamilla also can prosecute such Class B criminal misdemeanors, which carry a maximum penalty of $2,000 and six months imprisonment.
Apart from Texas’ top criminal judge standing accused of committing a crime, these allegations are significant because Judge Keller has asked the state to pay her legal bills in an unrelated case before the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Responding to charges in that case last week, Keller attorney Chip Babcock asserted that forcing Judge Keller to foot her own legal bills would be “financially ruinous.” This arguably was a false claim if Judge Keller has been hiding millions of dollars in assets that she was legally required to disclose to the public.
“It looks like Judge Keller has been hiding her assets from the public for at least six year,” said Texans For Public Justice Director Craig McDonald. “Unlike many of the defendants who have appeared before her, Keller can afford to hire a top-notch attorney.”
Yeah, this one’s pretty much kept the irony-meters pegged from the get-go. Here’s the Ethics Commission complaint and the complaint letter to County Attorney Escamilla (both PDFs). As with all such matters, if any action gets taken on them, it won’t be any time soon.
UPDATE: Keller will file an amended financial disclosure.
“We’re going to make a corrected report,” Keller attorney Ed Shack said. “There’s some items that need to be put on her report. The judge met today with her father and her father’s lawyer and they are determining what property is in her name.”
Must be nice to have so much property that you can lose track of some of it.
UPDATE: Oh, this is just awesome. Here’s Sharon Keller’s excuse for not filing a full and accurate disclosure:
[Keller’s lawyer Ed Shack] says two of Keller’s real estate holdings inadvertently were omitted from previous filings because of a simple error. When Keller had a previous year’s report recopied, two pages listing those holdings fell out of the stack; since that happened in 2002, those pages have not been replaced, Shack says. Keller is now checking with her father and her father’s lawyer, Shack says, to make sure no other additional holdings mistakenly have not been reported.
Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’m sure Judge Keller would believe that explanation from any appellant who appeared before her. Via Vince.