Lawsuit Brought Against Former Director of Texas Ethics Commission as Evidence of Very Unethical Behavior Surfaces

Thursday morning, Empower Texans President Michael Quinn Sullivan filed a sworn criminal complaint stating that former Executive Director of the Texas Ethics Commission, Tom Harrison, allegedly stepped out of the boundaries of his office by giving gifts to legislators in order to promote certain legislation. 

From the Empower Texans website:

So today I filed a sworn criminal complaint [pdf format, 101 pages] against Tom Harrison with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. He should be investigated and charged with having knowingly violated Texas Penal Code, Chapter 36 (“Bribery and Corrupt Influence”). Section 36.09 forbids anyone from conferring “any benefit on a public servant that he knows the public servant is prohibited by law from accepting.”

That includes sports tickets, meals, notebooks, golf tees and other items Harrison provided legislative offices.

Sullivan says that Harrison abruptly resigned from his post at the TEC recently when Empower Texans had demanded he release emails he had sent to legislators.

“Now we know why he scurried out the door,” says Sullivan.

Sullivan notes that Harrison’s actions will mean he has broken state law, and that if he was, then his colleagues must have known about it.

Under state law, Harrison was forbidden from not only being a lobbyist while serving on the Texas Ethics Commission, but from engaging in any lobbying activities. Yet the documents I provided the district attorney’s office clearly show Harrison doing just that.

This could not have been a secret to Harrison’s colleagues. Every member of the Texas Ethics Commission and the commission staff ought to be investigated over their knowledge of Harrison’s criminal activity.

It is unreasonable to believe that the TEC commissioners and staff did not know that Harrison’s full-time day job entailed lobbying legislators on behalf of his employer.

That they would have known, and failed to take action, is in itself a violation of their oaths of office.

So if this lawsuit ends up leading to Harrison’s guilt, it won’t just hurt him, but many within the Texas Ethics Commission. This would also be an incredibly jarring development, seeing as how this is the organization that regulates Texans interactions to see to it that they remain fair, and lawful. Corruption within the very organization meant to stop corruption is a nasty concept, and if there, needs to be weeded out immediately.