Sunlight is the best disinfectant.
Texans deserve to know what motivates our representatives in their decisions and votes. We should be able to expect our legislators to vote for OUR interests, not their own. Taxpayers deserve to know when a legislator votes to cut tenant rights (if they are a landlord), votes to limit construction workers’ rights (if they are a developer), votes to reduce environmental regulation (if they work for a polluter), or if they vote for a project (and their hand is in the cookie jar).
Texas law requires incumbents and candidates to file personal financial statements disclosing their assets and sources of income, but unfortunately, the Texas Legislature has refused to make obtaining this knowledge easy for taxpayers, citizen watchdogs, or the media.
Unlike transparency efforts in other states; current state law does not require the Texas Ethics Commission to publish incumbent and candidate personal finance statements online. The only way to learn about politicians’ financial statements is to file a Freedom of Information request, a bureaucratic process that can delay the public from learning who funds their legislators.
So Reform Austin has decided to make it easier for everyone. We filed Texas Public Information Act requests and obtained Personal Financial Statements for incumbents and candidates, and are hosting them for free for the public to download and view.
It shouldn’t be this way, however. The Texas Senate and the Texas House approved bills in the past that would require personal finance statements of Texas politicians to be posted online. As the Texas Tribune points out, previous attempts to make these personal finance statements readily available have led to nowhere.
The Senate’s bill is from 2015. The House bill is from 2017. Why is the Texas Legislature playing games when it comes to this issue?
Lawmakers in Austin need to know what Texans think about our state government. Here’s what people in Dallas want them to know.
Posted by Reform Austin on Monday, June 4, 2018
An easy first step is for the Texas Legislature to vote collectively to make these documents readily available for anyone to see, without first having to file an official request. Posting politicians’ personal finance statements online for everyone to see increases transparency, which is greatly lacking in Austin, and if public officials vote against our interests to help themselves; we, as taxpayers, can then vote them out.
Explore our Google Drive folder of the statements for yourself to see where our representatives’ financial interests lie. And if you see something you think is wrong, let Reform Austin know, we’d be happy to help shine the light.