Today, Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle sent letters to the Texas Rangers, the State Auditor and the Travis County District Attorney requesting formal investigations into a series of questionable payments made by Attorney General Ken Paxton, State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, State Land Commissioner George P. Bush and other state officials.
Improper Payments Detailed in Investigative News Reports
Widespread abuse of state employee compensation has been detailed in a series of investigative news reports by the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News and other Texas publications over recent weeks. The reports point to the systematic use of “emergency leave” as well as document manipulation to allow some state employees to quit or be removed from their state jobs but continue receiving thousands of dollars in state pay. In some cases, the payments appear intended to provide special treatment to politically connected or otherwise favored employees. In other instances, the payments may be a form of hush money to keep specific employees from criticizing state officials or disclosing information that might prove incriminating or embarrassing.
Angle’s letter to the Texas Rangers can be seen here and reads in part:
“These reports confirm that, contrary to the intent of law, multiple statewide officeholders have provided certain employees with emergency leave packages as a form of severance pay or even settlement agreements.”
“The intentional misuse of state funds violates both the spirit and the letter of the emergency leave provision of state law and could be viewed by Texas taxpayers as the equivalent of tax-payer funded hush money.”
“Specifically, the facts outlined by state news media and Texas state law merit a full investigation of the Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, Land Commissioner, Teacher Retirement System, Water Development Board and potentially other agencies for violations of Texas Penal Code 39.02 (Abuse of Official Capacity), Section 36.02 (Bribery), and Section 37.10 (Tampering with a Government Record).”
See here and here for the background. I had assumed someone would file a complaint over this sooner or later. The Rangers and the State Auditor can add it to their growing to-do list. The Chron has more.