From the Statesman:
A Travis County jury today found South Texas lawmaker Kino Flores guilty of multiple counts of tampering with a governmental record and perjury in connection with omissions Flores made on financial disclosure forms required to be filed by state elected officials.
Flores, a 14-year state representative, was convicted of five counts of misdemeanor tampering with a governmental record, four counts of felony tampering with a governmental record and two counts of misdemeanor perjury.
***“This verdict represents the public saying to public officials that they expect elected officials to maintain the highest ethical standards,” Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said. “That accurate and full public disclosure is an important part of public service and that the public will not accept excuses like ‘I was too busy’ or ‘I just didn’t know.’”
Flores was found guilty of two counts of tampering with government records with the intent to harm or defraud the state for failing to report on the forms income that he was accused of receiving from a list of businesses in 2002 and 2003. He was also found guilty of the felony tampering for failing to report his son’s job with the Capitol lobby firm HillCo Partners.
The jury found that he did not intend to harm or defraud by failing to report a list of properties he owned on financial disclosure firms, including a Guadalupe Street condominium. Because of that lack of intent, the jury found the tampering with a governmental record counts related to those charges are misdemeanors.
Flores’ lawyers argued that he did not intend to omit the properties on the forms and dismissed some of the omissions as clerical errors. They argued that he was not obligated under the law to report the income because he was working as a consultant.
What’s important here is not what he was convicted for, but what he was NOT convicted for. As the article says, this case basically amounted to “clerical errors” but this still stinks to high heaven. Unfortunately, (and probably by design) we have a State Ethics Commission which is relatively toothless and whose only major enforcement actions are for paperwork violations. Kind of like this:
When lawmakers are given gifts or even campaign donations, there are obvious strings attached. We ought to ban all gift-giving from lobbyists, etc and move to a system of full public financing of elections so the public can be absolutely certain no favors are being traded.
Otherwise, we just have a system where as long as they’re telling us they’re taking bribes and fill out the proper paperwork, it’s ok.
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