Wednesday, August 9, 2017


By Neil Thomas
The Texas Tribune

Like most higher education institutions, Houston Community College officials had a lot they wanted state legislators to do for them in Austin earlier this year. The school found a champion in a veteran Democratic senator from Dallas.

Sen. Royce West, who sits on both the higher education and finance committees, came through big for HCC and other community colleges, shepherding dual-credit legislation — which an HCC administrator called a “high-priority opportunity” — through a committee, the floor of the Texas Senate and onto the desk of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

[State Rep. Eddie Lucio III, a Democrat from Brownsville who has done bond underwriting work involving Cameron County — where his district is located — told the Tribune that no client had ever asked him for political favors and said it was unfair to call that work a conflict of interest because Texas' citizen lawmakers need to work to earn money and their jobs can fall under a wide range of state laws.]

Weeks before West helped House Bill 1638, which strengthened connections between community colleges and four-year universities, pass the Senate, HCC gave his law firm, West & Associates, a place in its legal services pool — a list of pre-approved attorneys HCC chooses from when it has legal needs.

During the legislative session, HCC also selected the law practice of Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, for its legal services pool, despite ranking Soto Hernandez 17th out of 20 bidders based on criteria including qualifications and experience.

Two months earlier, Hernandez had filed House Bill 254 to help standardize the course numbering system used in public colleges — a proposal HCC administrators called a “key bill” during the legislative session.

It’s not clear whether HCC has used West's or Hernandez’s firms for legal services yet.

“Almost a quid pro quo” is how political scientist Mark Jones describes the situation. The Rice University professor said it’s a “smart move” for public education institutions to contract with state legislators because “you are more likely to have them as a friend if you hire their firm.”

“It goes without saying that state legislators occupy a privileged position, compared to rivals who do not occupy the same position, because they can influence legislation that directly affects these public entities,” Jones said.

And ignoring contract bids from state lawmakers, he said, “could come back to haunt you.”

["The filings list Lucio's law practice as a party to eight underwriting transactions between three finance companies and Cameron County — where Lucio's district is located. Lucio said that he received "nominal" payment from the underwriters' attorneys for "very simple" work such as processing documents and collecting signatures. Lucio added that he supports "responsible ethics reform" and he voted for the bill that created the Form 1295 disclosure requirements."]

In Texas, lawmakers earn just $7,200 per year as part-time public servants. They all have regular jobs — many are lawyers or doctors or consultants. And some of them have business relationships with public entities — such as community colleges, utility districts and housing authorities — that depend on the Legislature to approve their budgets, decide how much taxpayer money they receive and pass the laws that regulate their operations. Some of those entities owe their very existence to the Legislature.

Under state ethics laws, such apparent conflicts of interest aren’t prohibited. Lawmakers are banned from doing business with the state or counties — but only when that business relationship is specifically approved by legislation while they’re serving at the Capitol.

But that doesn’t cover thousands of other public entities like community colleges — which means it’s perfectly legal for West and Hernandez to earn money doing legal work for HCC after promoting bills that would help the school.

Until recently, such financial disclosures were largely hidden from voters — available only if you waded through the records of thousands of public entities.

But in 2015, Rep Giovanni Caprgilione, R-Southlake, introduced House Bill 1295, which for the first time shed light on financial deals between public entities like HCC and businesses they contract with, which required those businesses to reveal who controls them — as well as anyone they hire to hammer out deals with public entities.

At the time, Capriglione said HB 1295 was designed to ensure the public could discover whether legislators have conflicts of interest that voters should know about. “Just tell us who is making the money,” he said.

Since the bill was signed by Abbott, the Texas Ethics Commission has published “Form 1295” disclosures on its website. The Texas Tribune searched these filings and found that several state lawmakers were involved in almost 100 contracts with public entities.


Anonymous said...

People, say no to Rene Oliveira. TRUST ME ON THIS ONE

Anonymous said...

Voters wake the fuck up

Anonymous said...

You know what Montoya? You are the best blogger in the general area.I followed you since the Herald and then when you were on the Robert Sanchez Blog. You conguer sir. The voters will follow. They are learning. Sir, ubderstand you can single handedly make our community prosper. McAllen does not have Montoya. We do. We have the Port, we have three International Bridges we have the World Renown Zoo, we have International Airport, we are by the sea and the border, we are crossroads if the Americas and we are grateful we have El RrunRrun JuN Montoya. Thank You God Thankyou Sanchez Men

Anonymous said...

@ 5:21 p.m.

GO AWAY, CAPT. BOB. just go the fuck away, bro

Anonymous said...

WHAT! Brownsville has a newspaper? Do tell. It should be called a coupon newspaper.

Anonymous said...

Sanchez Sanchez Sanchez Sanchez best thing since sliced bread and butter

Anonymous said...

It is our town it is your town it is Captain Bob's town. It is what it is. If you do not like it, hit the road Jack

Anonymous said...

We need Montoya Captain Bob. Jim Barton . we do not need negative anonymous fools, McHale or even Cervantez. Brownsville Republic is just paste and copy. Understand folks

Anonymous said...

Juan Montoya #1

Anonymous said...

Lucio and Obell. Power couple.

GGL said...

Look into IES and how Lucio is tied to it. Millions of dollars is paid to this corp. by both the state and federal govt. Daddy helped out by making sure the state increased the daily reimbursement meal $$$ going to them. International Education Services (IES) take a look and see who owns that one. Millions of dollars of your money!

Anonymous said...

OK...I think everybody understands that all politicians are a bunch of social parasites. Like ticks they longer they are in office, the deeper they bury into the flesh of the people and the more blood they such. Unlike politicians, ticks will drop off you when you die.

They should have have term limits for every elected official, local, state and national.

Anonymous said...

All of our elected officials are corrupt. The Lucio father and son have their votes in the Texas Legislature for sale and are willing to take all offers. Rene "The Slush" Oliveira has been for sale for 30+ years. It is time for Cameron County voters to wake up and see how their representatives are fooling them and getting rich, while the community swirls down the toilet of poverty.

Anonymous said...

Another Legislative Session = More $$$$ for Rep. Lucio. TEDSI pays him hundreds of thousands of $$$$ for services on a projects he puts in the budget each biennium.

Don't believe me, search for yourself on Google: TEDSI + Invoice + Luico

Pinche rata sucio

Anonymous said...


Legislature > TWDB > Hidalgo County Drainage District # 1 > TEDSI > Lucio III

easy enough for a blind man to see.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Lucio and his GOP tool O'bell

Just another of those neo-nazi supporting GOP running people over, propping up Trump, Confederate flag wavers. Notice how the only people who like him anymore are Republicans. It's always the same 3 republicans who comment on his Facebook lol. Let me guess O'bell thinks he's the brains and EIII is just the pretty face whose puppet strings are being pulled. sick of these dumb fuck losers

Anonymous said...

Obell will be leaving little Eddie's office in a few months. He will take a job with the governor. What a loser! He worked for Cornyn and Abbot not too long ago. Don't let the door hit you on your fat ass! Adios jack ass!