Poor Senator Joan Huffman — last week, The Houston Press listed her as a legislative "loser" for, among other things, pushing for provisions to allow lawmakers not to report their spouses' business interests in state filings, and a complaint filed this week with the Texas Ethics Commission suggests why: Huffman hasn't disclosed her husband's myriad business interests.
The Lone Star Project, a left-leaning political non-profit, reports that a complaint filed June 10 by a member of the Texas Democratic Psrt's Executive Committee alleges that Huffman failed to report her husband Donald K. Lawyer's interests in dozens of businesses.
Filed by Carol Wheeler of Katy, the complaint alleges: "Senator Huffman reported interests of herself and her spouse as including only an interest in LL Ranch Partners, Ltd, which she described as a family limited partnership. Records of the Secretary of State, however, show Senator Huffman’s husband, Keith Lawyer, has financial interests in over 35 separate businesses that filed with the State of Texas in 2014. Only five of those businesses were created prior to Huffman and Lawyer’s marriage on February 5, 1997."
The Lone Star Project reports:
Anyone wondering why Joan Huffman filed an amendment in the closing weeks of the legislative session that carves out a loophole to eliminate the requirement that spousal assets be disclosed now has an answer. Huffman’s amendment was about Joan Huffman and giving her cover for an ongoing violation of state law.
If Governor Abbott signs the bill containing the Huffman amendment into law, state officials will be able to hide assets through their spouses, opening a massive loophole for lawmakers to engage in conflicts of interest by accepting gifts and income sources in the name of a husband or wife. No one should think it won’t happen. Former State Representative Linda Harper-Brown drove a luxury Mercedes-Benz provided by a lobbyist, but registered in the name of Harper-Brown's spouse.
Matt Angle, the LSP's director, stated in a press release, "Instead of complying with Texas law, Joan Huffman has violated it by hiding personal assets. Huffman then brazenly wrote into law her own personal loophole to hide her crime. The Huffman loophole is a dream come true for corrupt state leaders."
We reached out to Huffman's office for comment and will update when we hear back.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.