Wednesday, April 8, 2015

SB 19: Ending Thomas Ratliff-esque Conflicts of Interest

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
Matthew 6:24

From Donna Garner:
“Actions Instead of Outrage – SB 19 – Dump Thomas Ratliff”
By Donna Garner

ACTION STEP: It is time for action instead of simply expressing outrage. People all over this state have ranted for years because Thomas Ratliff, ignoring the Texas Attorney General’s ruling, has continued to stay on the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). He is a long-time, registered lobbyist for Microsoft and other education-related clients that do business with the SBOE/Texas Education Agency. This is called a definite, in-your-face “conflict of interest.”

Quote from Texas State Board of Education member, Thomas Ratliff, in his 4.1.15 letter to the Texas State Affairs Committee members:
“I continue to believe this section of the bill runs afoul of the First amendment of the United States Constitution by infringing on a person’s right to free speech and a right to seek redress from the government by discriminating against a person who wishes to run for offices based on what they do for a living.”
In essence, Thomas Ratliff is saying that he believes his First Amendment rights are being infringed upon even though he is a registered lobbyist doing millions of dollars’ worth of business with clients who negotiate contracts with the Texas Education Agency/Texas State Board of Education. In fact, he is on the SBOE committee that decides on these contracts.

Ratliff’s argument is similar to saying that a thief’s First Amendment rights are being infringed upon whenever he gets arrested for stealing from his boss!
  • According to the 4.6.15 clarifying e-mail sent out by one of the conservative, self-sacrificing SBOE members, SB 19 authored by Sen. Van Taylor (Section 3) would make it illegal for Thomas Ratliff to run for an elected office (including the SBOE and the Legislature) if he is still a registered lobbyist. If he decides not to run for the SBOE in 2016, he would still be prohibited from lobbying for a period of one full legislative session.
The grassroots MUST take action by contacting the Texas Senate State Affairs committee (members and contact information posted below). SB 19 was left pending in the Committee on March 30, 2015.

Over 6,000 bills have been filed during the 84th Session of the Texas Legislature. We have to separate SB 19 out from the pack and pressure our elected legislators to listen to our concerns.

So far, I have heard of no legislator who thinks it is ethical for an elected official to be a registered lobbyist with a direct conflict of interest; but we have to pressure our legislators to turn their beliefs into a vote.
 Read the whole thing here.

Learn more about Thomas Ratliff's Common Core related conflicts of interest here.

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