Campaign Spending of Three Texas Justices Scrutinized
Posted Jan 24, 2008 10:59 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht has acknowledged that he used campaign cash to pay for trips to his hometown. He is the third member of the state supreme court this week to be scrutinized for campaign spending on travel, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The Texas Ethics Commission issued an advisory opinion in 1993 that says judges may not use campaign money to commute to their homes. Hecht said he made the trips for campaign purposes, even though he does not have to run for re-election until 2012.
Campaign finance records show Hecht paid airlines with campaign cash for 42 in-state trips last year, and many of them were to his hometown of Carrollton, the Associated Press reports.
Justice David Medina spent nearly $57,000 since 2005 for mileage reimbursement, after receiving bad advice from an accountant that commuting costs are an allowable expense, his lawyer told the Chronicle.
Texas Watch has accused another justice, Paul Green, of spending $17,000 during the last three years for trips between Austin and San Antonio, where he owns a home with his ex-wife. Green said he would try to show that the trips were for speeches and other allowable purposes.
Updated at 11:27 a.m. CT to state that the Texas Ethics Commission's advisory opinion is from 1993.