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Keep Houston Press Free
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Whistleblower Wants To Blow Whistle On Texas Ethics Commission

For the last couple years, Clear Lake's John Cobarruvias has been outing local representatives who get slipshod with campaign finances, and he's filed numerous complaints to the state legislature's Ethics Commission.

Now he's after the commission for taking it easy on the reps who violate the law. Cobarruvias is heading to Austin in December to make some demands to the legislature.

The latest incident involved State Rep. Rob Eissler, a republican from the Woodlands who got in trouble earlier this year for using campaign donations to pay his wife a $52,000 "salary" and $17,000 in condo expenses. Eissler settled the case with the Ethics Commission months ago, agreeing to repay about $18,000 and pay a $10,000 fine.

That's small potatoes to what Eissler took, Cobarruvias says, but what really pisses him off is that the commission withheld the details of the settlement until days before the election.

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"I have got to question what the in the hell they think they're doing, because the Ethics Commission is now just meddling in an election," Cobarruvias says. "I'd like to know who made that decision, and I'd like to know why they're still on the commission."

We'd like to know too, but the Commission didn't return our phone calls.

Update: According to Tim Sorrels, deputy general counsel for the Ethics Commission, settlement terms aren't made public until the fines are paid, and the commission set November 1 as the deadline for Eissler to pay.

-- Paul Knight

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