Weak Disclosure Laws Keep Public in the Dark

Texas voters finally got a real peek at the personal finances of their governor and lieutenant governor — after the two men decided to run for high federal office.

It was during his presidential campaign in 2011 that Gov. Rick Perry broke up a blind trust and revealed that he was double-dipping — collecting both his salary and a state pension. And Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst had to expose the details of his vast wealth, estimated at around $200 million, when he was striving to become a U.S. senator.

Two Democratic lawmakers, Reps. Donna Howard of Austin and Chris Turner of Grand Prairie, are proposing legislation that would incorporate some of the elements of the federal requirements into the state’s disclosure law.

Perry didn’t have to tell the Texas Ethics Commission about his pension, but in December 2011 he was required to disclose it to the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., as part of his run for president.

“That’s a great illustration of the fact that our disclosure reports have a lot of loopholes in them,” Turner said. “It’s obviously of interest to the public, but was not required to have been disclosed.” Turner has filed separate legislation that would ban double-dipping by elected officials.