Good for the public, bad for the court. Judge Keller, in particular, appears unprepared for more intense scrutiny, as evidenced by a story by Steve McGonigle in today's Dallas News titled "Judge Keller's disclosures omit nearly $2 million in real estate, public records show."Whoops!
This comes on the heels of Judge Keller's sworn statement last week that her legal bills to defend against judicial misconduct charges would be "financially ruinous." But that assertion, says her lawyer, was based on her publicly disclosed assets, not the ones she concealed from the Ethics Commission:
[Keller's attorney Chip] Babcock, a partner in one of the largest law firms in Texas, said that the proceeding could cost Keller several hundred thousand dollars and that it could consume most if not all of her income and assets.
He said he based his prediction on the resources Keller listed on her latest personal financial report to the state and had not asked to see any other financial statements from his client, a member of a well-known Dallas family.
Andrew Wheat from Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog group on campaign finance issues, put it well when he told McGonigle: "It leaves one speechless to see so much left out of her personal financial statements on the one hand and then on the other hand to see her making her claims that hiring a private attorney would be financially ruinous."
How much do you wanna bet every other judge on the CCA is busy today checking whether they need to update their own ethics commission filings?
These are folks who are not used to having others question their actions or check the veracity of their public declarations as rigorously as other statewide politicians. For a variety of historical reasons dating back to Reconstruction, the CCA has mostly flown under the radar and avoided public attention. Judge Keller has changed that, maybe for good. Do you think the court is ready?
UPDATE: From Texans for Public Justice:
Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) filed complaints today with prosecutors and the Texas Ethics Commission alleging that Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller illegally failed to disclose millions of dollars worth of real estate holdings in sworn personal financial disclosure statements. TPJ's complaints follow up on revelations reported Monday by the Dallas Morning News.
Read the full media release
View the Texas Ethics Commission complaint
View the complaint letter to Travis County Attorney