watchdog group, appropriately named Texas Watchdog, beat the state's
tricky rules that prevented online publishing of politicians'
disclosures of financial information, according to a recent
Associated Press story.
The rule had been that anyone requesting the information from state
offices had to provide a name and address to the state lawmaker. So
the watchdog group requested them and an editor scanned them and
posted them. Good job, as information such as this should be
available to all and for free.
But the AP notes that potential conflicts of interest could be hidden
as state law does not demand individual relationships or business
interests to be named.
So some have questioned the Texas House Speaker about a relationship
with an unidentified lobbyist or the Lieutenant Governor about
significant business interests. While they have to deny wrongdoing,
it is fair to assume the worst and to let suspicion about
relationships turn into considered guilt.
That is why things like this should be in the open. Don't just deny
wrongdoing; show all and show that there is no conflict of interest
in decisions or votes being made.
If details are hidden, then it is natural to assume they hidden for a
Like a police chief once told me, he didn't think he had a problem
with racial profiling with his officers. But, he said, if members of
the community perceived there was profiling, then it was a problem
for him to address. The perception of wrongdoing can, and should be,
just as damaging as proof of wrongdoing when a public agency fails to