Tuesday, May 6, 2014

About Dan Branch, "Transparency Guy"....


And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.
Ephesians 5:11

It's about time:
State Rep. Dan Branch has described himself as a champion of transparent government in his party’s runoff for Texas attorney general.

“I’m a transparency guy,” Branch said at a recent campaign event, where he drew a contrast to his opponent, Ken Paxton, a McKinney senator who has been forced in recent weeks to acknowledge a series of ethics and regulatory disclosure lapses. “I have a record of advancing open government. You all have to know what’s going on.”

But during his freshman year in the Texas House, while employed as an attorney for a firm that hires lobbyists, Branch was the driving force behind an effort to prevent the disclosure of conflicts of interest that can arise when lawmakers work for firms that lobby the state Legislature.

....

“A member of the Legislature cannot be the handmaiden for their employer on a matter for which the employer is being paid,” said former state Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas. “This is just smelly and horrible and ought to be stopped.”

It is not uncommon for lawmakers to work for firms that employ or hire lobbyists: The law partner of state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, is a registered lobbyist. Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, works for a law firm that has won awards for its lobbying prowess. And Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, is the CEO of a big company that hires an entire team of lobbyists in Austin.

[SIDENOTE: The fact that Branch is in the same category as Abortion Barbie and John Carona tells you everything you need to know right there]

In 2003, Wolens wanted to prohibit legislators from sponsoring or voting on bills that their employers were lobbying for or against. Failing that, he said, disclosure of it — at the time a bill is introduced or comes up for a vote — should be mandatory.

When Wolens' ethics overhaul legislation came to the floor, then-state Rep. Jim Dunnam, D-Waco, offered an amendment designed to shed even more light on the relationship between a lawmaker’s employer and the special interest lobby. Dunnam said the amendment was aimed at ensuring that lawmakers publicly disclose whether they shared an employer with lobbyists who were trying to sway the legislation before them.

Branch, who was and still is a lawyer for Winstead PC, a large firm that has a thriving lobby practice, spoke out against Dunnam's amendment.

....

Branch's ties to Winstead have made other headlines in the attorney general's race.

Branch is chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, which gives him special influence over academia in Texas, and he has sponsored many bills affecting colleges and universities. Winstead provides legal services for numerous universities, including the University of Texas System, the Texas A&M University System and Rice University, according to its website.

An emailed statement from Sullivan, the Winstead CEO, indicated that at least some of the firm's services for institutions of higher education might include lobbying, though “virtually all our work for those clients is not lobbying or political.”
Michael Quinn Sullivan has more:
One of the cheerleaders of the effort to intimidate conservative Texans has been Straus’ chum, Dan Branch who is now running for Texas Attorney General.

Dan Branch has used position in the legislature to hide his work as a lobbyist

This is the same Dan Branch who advocated for an AFL-CIO labor union as a lobbyist in Washington, DC — a fact his campaign has tried desperately to hide.

(No wonder Straus’ team made sure unions were specifically exempted from the donor-harassment effort! A fawning Texas Monthly puff-piece described Branch as a “childhood friend” of liberal speaker Joe Straus.)

Branch’s use of his position to pad his law firm’s wallet dates back more than a decade. It’s been previously revealed that while serving as chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education, Dan Branch’s law firm was simultaneously working on behalf of both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University systems, while also lobbying for London-based testing giant Pearson Publishing.

None of this has Dan Branch disclosed willingly. Ironic, given that he recently introduced himself at a tea party candidate forum as “the transparency guy.” Seems he wants everyone to be “transparent” except for himself!

....

Besides lobbying for an AFL-CIO labor union in Washington, what other businesses and government entities has Dan Branch and his law firm lobbied for over the years in Texas?

We don’t know – cannot know! – because Dan Branch and the Straus Team has kept Texans in the dark about how self-dealing lawmakers profit off the backs of taxpayers.

How can a guy who has lobbied on behalf of labor unions seriously expect anyone to believe he will defend Texas’ small businesses and our state’s right-to-work laws? What other conflicts of interest does Dan Branch and his lobby firm have that will jeopardize the liberty and prosperity of Texas?

What we do know is that Branch’s law firm has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Texas’ universities, while Branch chaired the higher education committee overseeing those same universities’ governance and funding! So it is no surprise that Dan Branch hasn’t lifted a finger to investigate the allegations of legislative clout-abuse, financial corruption and other malfeasance within our public universities… His law firm was making big bucks on the side.

We also know that Branch led the charge to kill an ethics bill that would have stopped him from voting on these issues… that’s unethical hypocrisy – or worse. 
While we're on the topic, Representative Branch, would you like to share how you got those football tickets from the UT President?!?

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