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Texas Supreme Court & Ethics Laws — A Bad Mix?

This is getting ridiculous. Now we have three Texas Supreme Court justices under ethics investigations. And one of the three just had criminal charges controversially dismissed in an unrelated matter. There have been a series of stories recently in the Dallas Morning News about these justices. Here are excerpts from the latest:

Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht said Wednesday he used campaign cash to pay for dozens of flights to his hometown last year because he was campaigning, even though he’s not up for re-election until 2012.

Justice Hecht reported 48 payments to airlines for in-state trips last year and acknowledged that “a good bit” of them were for travel to his hometown of Carrollton, where he still owns a home and attends church.

Using political contributions for personal use is against state law, and the Texas Ethics Commission has interpreted the law to ban appellate judges from using campaign donations to pay the costs of commuting between the judge’s home city and the city where the court is located.

Justice Hecht told The Associated Press that his homestead has been in Travis County for 20 years. “[But] I feel like it advances my campaign to go up there [to Carrollton] and I almost always work when I’m there,” he said.

Justice Hecht was re-elected to a six-year term in 2006.

He refused to produce documents proving that trips to Carrollton were business related.

“I think this is a waste of time,” he said.

He is the third Supreme Court justice to face similar campaign finance questions recently.

Texas Watch accused Justice Paul Green of improperly using campaign funds to reimburse his mileage expenses between his home in San Antonio and the court in Austin.

Justice David Medina has said he will repay political funds that he used for commuting between Houston and Austin. He said he received incorrect advice when he used the campaign funds.

Bob Kraft

I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law and Social Security Disability.

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