Larson: End 'Pay to Play' in State Government

For decades, Texas governors have used their authority to appoint people to important officers as a way to raise campaign money, but several lawmakers today called for new ethics laws to end that practice, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

"People are astonished that that is still part of the political makeup in Austin Texas," said State Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio).

Larson's House Ethics Committee today urged Gov. Greg Abbott to add four measures to the agenda for the Special Session now underway.

They would prevent statewide elected officials from lobbying for pay upon leaving office, extend conflict of interest disclosures of elected officials and appointees, and ban all political campaign contributions to elected officials when the Legislature is in session.

"This is an issue that has been going on only under Gov. Abbott, it's been going on for three decades," he said.

Larson says the word in the Capitol is that appointment to a seat on the Texas A&M Board of regents costs up to $300,000 in contributions to the governor's campaign fund, and $400,000 to get a seat on the University of Texas System regents.

"As an Aggie, that doesn't seem right," Larson joked.

Abbott has declared 'comprehensive ethics reform' to be a key issue in the Regular Session, and he included it in his State of the State speech, but when no major ethics bills were approved, Abbott did not put ethics reform back on the agenda for the Special Session.

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