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Dewhurst settles financial disclosure complaint

Well, now we have an idea of where Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst gets his wealth.

The Republican sent the Texas Ethics Commission two corrected financial statements covering 2007 and 2008 filings. The new disclosures show Dewhurst holds a stake in several funds, including assets managed by Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and the TCP Investment Fund II LP.

A watchdog group filed a formal complaint with Travis County prosecutors in September after The Associated Press raised questions about the lack of detail in his personal financial statements. Travis County Attorney David Escamilla, a Democrat who investigates allegations of misdemeanor offenses by public officials, said his inquiry was finished.

“By them agreeing to move forward and file the amended reports, we believe there is no question that they’re in compliance,” Escamilla said.

[…]

Earlier disclosure documents did not reveal that the former CIA agent, through a privately held trust, was a major shareholder in a Houston energy and investment company. There also was no mention of Dewhurst’s far-flung cattle ranches, private bank investments or luxury condo. Nor was there any word of the hedge funds, stocks and bonds or publicly traded fuel distribution company that he acknowledges are or have been part of a trust fund estimated to be worth up to $200 million.

The earlier documents just said the David Dewhurst Trust is valued at “$25,000 or more.”

The lack of detail prompted a complaint by Texans for Public Justice, a liberal watchdog group based in Austin. Director Craig McDonald applauded Escamilla’s review but said the ethics commission should levy civil penalties for the lieutenant governor’s “noncompliance with the disclosure laws over the past years.”

“(Lt.) Gov. Dewhurst’s financial disclosures fall under the category of better late than never — and better something rather than nothing,” McDonald said.

Previous blogging on this here and here. Escamilla said his review showed no intent to deceive, and I have no problem accepting that, but I hope we can all agree that a system under which he could have gotten away with saying his trust was worth “$25,000 or more” is woefully inadequate. And I do think some kind of civil penalty for being that vague is reasonable, though it may not be allowable. In any event, good on Dewhurst for rectifying this.

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