Thursday, April 3, 2014

Conflicting Interests and Texas Railroad Commission Candidates

"Diverse weights are an abomination to the Lord,
And dishonest scales are not good."
Proverbs 20:23

Gadzooks, from Tuesday's Houston Chronicle:
AUSTIN - A Republican candidate seeking a post that regulates the state's oil and gas industry said he won't cut ties to his energy business if elected to the Texas Railroad Commission - a state board that historically has had a poor track record disentangling itself from industry interests.

Ryan Sitton is co-founder and chief executive officer of PinnacleAIS, which advises companies about maintenance of equipment used in oil and gas operations.

Sitton said he will maintain an ownership stake in Pinnacle­AIS if he becomes a commission board member - a declaration that raised questions by his GOP and Democratic opponent, ethics experts and tea party Republicans.


Financial entanglements between state oil and gas regulators and those they regulate aren't anything new, but they're still egregious, said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice.

"Time and time again, you see that much of their money comes from the very companies that they regulate," McDonald said.


As a commissioner, Sitton would receive $175,300 annually in addition to income from PinnacleAIS.

Sitton's position could hurt his effort to court tea party voters who are skeptical of officials with feet in both the regulatory and business camps, said Mark Jones, political scientist at Rice University.

"That seems like a profound strategy error," Jones said. "Whether or not you're going to do it, you certainly don't say it."
Read the whole thing here.

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