There’s multitasking and then there’s multitasking

There must be a mighty big hat rack in State Rep. Ray Allen’s office, because his staffers sure do wear a lot of hats.

When state Rep. Ray Allen was passing bills in the Legislature last year, he relied on government employees for help. For political work, it was campaign staff. And for his prison-lobbying business, he taps private-sector workers.

Nothing remarkable there, except that they’re all the same people — Allen’s Austin-based state employees — records and interviews show.

Allen’s top aide, Scott Gilmore, has even continued to draw a state salary while traveling outside Texas to consult and lobby — for pay — for the prison factory industry, Allen said.

The arrangement has drawn criticism from two government-watchdog groups, but the Grand Prairie Republican sees no problem with it. Allen said his employees are putting in more than enough time with the House of Representatives to justify their full-time salaries from taxpayers.

And he said they have almost always used private computers and phones — even when working out of his taxpayer-provided office in the Capitol. Any use of state equipment has been incidental and unintended, he said. Records also show that Allen has periodically reimbursed the costs of private long-distance calls.

Allen acknowledged that it might be unusual to have employees assigned to three different jobs, but he said it is ethical and legal.

“It’s probably more unusual for somebody to use state staff in a private industry business, but campaign work would be very common,” Allen said. “The question is not, Is it wrong to do it? The question is, How do you keep it separate?”

But two watchdog groups question the multitasking use of state employees, particularly when they work at the Capitol.

“They need to get everything that is not directly related to the business of being a state representative out of the state Capitol,” said Suzy Woodford, director of Common Cause of Texas. “I do not believe that you can keep everything that segmented.”

Fred Lewis, director of Campaigns for People, said Allen should require a full written account of the precise hours his employees put in for the state, for the campaign and for Allen’s lobby practice, known as Service House.

I’m sorry, but I have a real hard time believing that every one of the time-splicers in Rep. Allen’s office is always able to separate one of their jobs from the others. I have a hard time believing that none of them has ever done work for one of their private sector or campaign gigs while on the state’s dime. And I have a real hard time believing that Rep. Allen really thinks the arrangement is hunky dory.

There’s an easy answer. Pay campaign staff to do campaign work only, and tell regular staff they can’t moonlight. I have sympathy for any legislative aide who says he or she can’t get by on the salary they get paid, but this isn’t the way to fix that problem.

Rep. Allen, by the way, is facing Katy Hubener, another one of our fine Democratic State House candidates, in November. Hubener was on our list of People To Profile For Texas Tuesdays, but we never quite connected with her, though I hear we may get a late entry for her eventually. She was recently named a Dean Dozen candidate, and I expect her to give Rep. Allen a good race this fall. Check her out, and give some thought to giving her a hand.

(Thanks to KF for the reminder on this story.)

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3 Responses to There’s multitasking and then there’s multitasking

  1. Zangwell Arrow says:

    Ray Allen is operating his private business out of the State Capitol and asking all of us taxpayers to foot the bill. He personifies the corrosive corruption that permeates Texas state government under the Rick’s Republican Regime and Craddick’s Cartel, in which lobbyists cycle in and out of top government jobs, campiagn contributors win lucrative state contracts, and candidates openly pocket illegal corporate cash from insurance companies and others.

    In Ray’s case, the mess of his personal life is equally corrupt. His wife of 23 years kicked him out of their Grand Prairie home last year when she discovered he was having an affair with his 23-year-old female employee.

    Running a private business with public funds? Having an extra-marital affair with an employee half his age? No wonder Ray was given the “Christian of the Year” award during this year’s Texas Republican Party state convention.

  2. Wiley Buchanan says:

    Apparently Ray Allen has decided that he and his staff simply don’t have to play by the same rules that apply to all the rest of us. I’ve never seen a more flagrant demonstration of total disregard for basic ethical guidelines than the self-indulgent sideshow Mr. Allen is staging in his State Capitol offices. Without excuse or apology, he is continuing to use public resources – my tax dollars! – to advance both his political fortunes and his private business interests. It is entirely outrageous. I only hope that the people of Grand Prairie and Irving are as angry as they are embarrassed by Ray Allen’s apparent addiction to self-indulgent behaviors, and will show him the door in November so he can amass his prison-labor fortunes on his own nickel instead of mine.

  3. citizen Able says:

    The rules cannot be any clearer on this.

    State employees are not permitted to use state resources (including the physical location of a state office building) to campaign.

    State resources are for state business.

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