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DA Watch: Harris County DA Hires Lobbyist for Rest of Texas Legislative Session

Now, here’s something to ponder over … district attorneys (elected officials) hiring private, third-party lobbists to lobby for them with lawmakers (other elected officials).

So, the lawmakers don’t just check with the DAs on the repercussions of changing the Penal Code as part of their job?

Apparently NOT.

Over in Houston, the District Attorney has taken $17,000 out of the Hot Checks division and used it to pay for a lobbyist.

That’s right: a lobbyist. This guy, Hank Mitchell, is being paid by the Harris County District Attorney to lobby the Texas Legislature on behalf of the DA.

For how long? Through the end of the current legislative session.

About what? according to the Houston Chronicle, Mr. Mitchell’s job is to “ensure lawmakers have a Houston prosecutor’s perspective on possible changes to the penal code and other criminal justice laws.”

And, before you start scratching your head, you might like to know that this isn’t the first time this has been done.

Up in Vegas last summer, there was a big deal about a lobbyist name Rick Loop upping his fee from $80,000 to $150,000 to represent Distict and Justice Court judges before the Nevada legislature during its 2009 legislative session. The media brouhaha wasn’t over the fact that the judges were hiring the lobbyist, the brouhaha was over his price hike. Vegas, right.

Awhile back, someone thought there might be an ethical issue here. At least San Antonio DA Susan Reed did.

Back in 1999, the District Attorney for Bexar County, then and now Susan Reed, requested and got an Opinion from the Attorney General of the State of Texas, who was then John Cornyn, asking if a county could use public funds to hire a lobbyist to influence legislation. Cornyn said yes.

Here’s the link to that AG Opinion if you want to read it:
http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/opinions/49cornyn/op/1999/pdf/JC0089.pdf.

Source:

Houston Chronicle
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/6292221.html

Las Vegas Sun
http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2008/jun/29/same-lobbyist-courts-shorter-term-more-money/


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