Gov. Abbott’s legislative priorities are yet again under assault by Republicans in the Texas House. The newest target? Ethics reform. Wednesday morning, State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook (R-Coriscana) fired a broadside at the measure, calling it “one of the most superficial efforts I’ve ever seen.”
The comments are a direct attack on Gov. Abbott, who labeled ethics reform as one of his priorities in the State of the State:
“Let’s dedicate this session to ethics reform,” Abbott said. “I want to work with you so that we can together strengthen the faith and the trust Texans deserve from us. It’s a reminder of who we really work for — and that is the citizens of Texas.”
The Texas Senate responded, and unanimously passed sweeping reforms authored by State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano). His legislation, SB 19, would expand transparency and disclosure requirements for state ethics reports, end the revolving door between elected office and the lobby, forced officials and legislators who are convicted of felonies while in office to resign, and prevent lobbyists from skirting disclosure rules by changing the way expenses to entertain legislators are reported.
Upon passage, Abbott issued the following statement.
“I applaud the Texas Senate for passing a meaningful ethics reform package. SB 19 reinforces the faith and trust that Texans deserve to place in their government, and it ensures that we remain focused on who we truly serve – the people of Texas. I look forward to working with the House to enact these ethics reform into law.”
Why would Byron Cook attack the Senate’s ethics package? One can only assume he intends to hijack the legislation as a vehicle for his onerous, previously vetoed disclosure requirements for donors. While Abbott and the Senate aimed to reign in government officials hoodwinking taxpayers, Cook would rather focus on persecuting taxpayers petitioning their government.