Friday, April 30, 2010

Keller fined $100K for financial disclosure lapses

Remarkably, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Sharon Keller was fined $100,000 today by the Texas Ethics Commission. Here's the ruling (pdf) and initial coverage from the Dallas News, Houston Chronicle, Austin Chronicle, and Texas Watchdog.

After Judge Keller falsely pled poverty trying to get the state to pay for her lawyer last year when the Judicial Conduct Commission brought removal proceedings against her, she shoulda seen this coming. Big dollar figure, though, on the fine, perhaps in part because in addition to the property omissions she failed to disclose up to five companies on whose board of directors she sat. That's a bigger deal to me, even, than the property omissions. Perhaps her father really did buy property in Keller's name without her knowledge, as she says (a claim which I've always thought raised questions about Daddy's illicit behavior), but she didn't sit on five company boards without knowing about it.

If Judge Keller goes down over this, her scalp belongs to Steve McGonigle at the Dallas News who first broke the story. At least she ought to send Steve a thank you note for the $100,000 fine. One wonders, as well, what's become of the criminal complaint filed by Texans for Public Justice with the Travis County Attorney over many of the same transgressions.

Texas Watchdog calls it "one of the stiffest civil penalties meted out in recent memory by the Ethics Commission." I'll have more to say after I've read the 8-page document.

UPDATE: According to Morgan Smith at the Texas Tribune, Judge Keller received the highest penalty ever from the Ethics Commission. After this fine, she writes: "Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who faced a $75,000 fine last year for campaign spending violations, no longer holds the distinction of having received the largest penalty in TEC history. (He also had to reimburse another $41,357.10.)"

NUTHER UPDATE: I should add that the State Commission on Judicial Conduct has scheduled a hearing on June 18 in Austin to accept oral arguments in the ongoing removal proceedings against Judge Keller, or in the SCJC's parlance, Judge No. 96.


CharityLee said...

Karma is a bitch no?

Anonymous said...

Practicing to be a part of Obama's administration :)

Anonymous said...

If this is such a big deal, how come we can't see Bill White's tax returns?
Is he doing it to avoid a Texas ethics investigation?