Texas S.C. Justice Broke Ethics Law, Fined $29K
Posted Dec 4, 2008 6:04 PM CDT
By Molly McDonough
Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht was fined $29,000 today after the Texas Ethics Commission determined he broke campaign finance laws by accepting, then failing to report what amounted to an excessive political contribution from a law firm.
At issue were legal fees Hecht owed Jackson Walker, which successfully mounted an appeal on Hecht's behalf. The firm discounted its regular rate, giving Hecht a $168,000 break on legal fees, the Associated Press reports.
A watchdog group complained that Hecht, while reporting what he paid the firm from campaign coffers, didn't make note of the discount. In Texas, judges cannot receive donations from law firms of more than $5,000.
Hecht is quoted as saying after the four-hour public hearing today that he is disappointed and mulling an appeal.
The underlying issue involved Hecht's support of the short-lived nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hecht was admonished for improperly endorsing a candidate for public office. But Jackson Walker helped him reverse that sanction by arguing that Miers wasn't running for elective office.
Hecht's total legal bill ended up being $476,000, of which he paid $308,000, the Dallas Morning News noted.