By: Michael Quinn Sullivan
At Thursday’s hearing of the Texas Ethics Commission, their “director of enforcement” (John Moore, a lawyer) told commissioners that “constitutional arguments don’t matter” in their hearings. And that should tell you almost everything you need to know about how the Texas Ethics Commission operates.
Never mind that the Texas Constitution’s proscribed oath of office for the state’s elected and appointed officials concludes that they are to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”
The same agency official then accused me and Empower Texans of hiding behind the Constitution. Um, I think that’s called being a citizen… And when did exercising your constitutional rights of free speech become a crime? (I guess when they became inconvenient to the ruling elite…)
A federal judge two weeks ago called the subpoenas the Commission issued to me and Empower Texans “absurd” and “overbroad.” So, after hearing that the Constitution doesn’t apply, commissioners voted unanimously to issue new, even more “overbroad” and “absurd” subpoenas.
The TEC obviously views themselves as being above the law — not just the laws of Texas, but the US Constitution. Even as they are trying to get documents and data from me, they are pursuing a new regulation that gives them the authority to do it — meaning under their own rules right now they cannot be doing what they are doing. Worse, what they are trying to adopt as a new regulation the governor specifically vetoed a year ago — meaning they don’t have ANY authority to do what they are doing or trying to do.
The TEC is a rogue agency, doing the bidding of entrenched interests and the ruling elite. They would make Lois Lerner blush.
Make no mistake: the freedoms of Speech and Association are under direct assault right now here in the Lone Star State, by the above-the-constitution TEC and by the establishment Republicans in the House. (On May 1, the State Affairs Committee is holding an invited-testimony-only meeting to discuss how to silence conservative groups with Lerner-style speech registries and restrictions. And, yes, the Texas House is under GOP control.)
The Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Right to Life have filed briefs with the federal court to intervene with us in suing the Texas Ethics Commission. THSC reported in their filing to the federal court that the TEC actually asked them to lie on their expenditure reporting forms.
Adding to the irony, earlier in the day Thursday Sen. Ted Cruz and other conservatives were celebrating the pending death of the IRS rules doing federally what the TEC is trying to do in Texas. And yesterday the US Supreme Court took another well-aimed shot at the unethical practices of the speech regulators. The TEC is on the wrong side of history.
The TEC is an agency run amok. The commissioners are each has-been or wannabe politicians, appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker (from lists submitted by the Republican and Democratic caucuses).
Sadly for them, they picked a fight with the wrong set of Texans.
They are accustomed to wimpy legislators going checkbook-in-hand to write a “make it go away” check that feeds the agency’s unethical coffers. The TEC isn’t used to anyone fighting back.
When a state agency declares in an open hearing that they are allowed to operate outside the Constitution, that’s the sign they need to be fought hard and heavy.
This isn’t a fight we picked, it’s a fight that Joe Straus and his cronies, a lobbyist for the Trial Lawyers Association, and the Texas Ethics Commission decided to fight — because they want to silence conservatives.
It isn’t a fight we picked, but it is a fight we’re going to win!