New Revelations on SBOE Ethics Concerns

The Dallas Morning News just dropped another ethics bomb on the Texas State Board of Education. The newspaper reports that two board members “have received thousands of dollars in gifts from a company seeking a lucrative contract with the board, records show, and those members have not reported the gifts on financial disclosure forms.”

Today’s story follows on others recently that have detailed ethics concerns regarding the board’s management of the Permanent School Fund. (See here, here and here.)

From today’s Morning News story:

Bidding documents submitted to the board by the company, AEW Capital Management of Boston, say its employees bought 53 gifts worth more than $5,000 for board finance committee members Rene Nuñez, D-El Paso, and Rick Agosto, D-San Antonio.

Since 2006, the gifts included golf games, Wine tours, dinners and “souvenirs.” One line item showed that Agosto received $220 worth of “Big 12 Championship Tix” and $324 for “Golf, Caddy, Fees & Tips.” Another said the firm spent $729 to host Nuñez at a “USC v Ohio Event.”

Agosto said he had not seen AEW’s disclosure, which was made in response to a Request for Qualifications from the board. Asked if he should have reported the gifts, Agosto declined to comment.

The newspaper says it obtained the bidding documents from an anonymous state board member. That fact drew criticism from board member David Bradley, R-BeaumontBuna, chairman of the board’s Finance Committee, who said the records shouldn’t have been made public:

“Any information that is released in those … is confidential. That unnamed board member, having a political agenda, has violated the very same ethics policy and procedures he is talking about.”

So Mr. Bradley seems more interested in keeping the public in the dark than in examining possible improprieties involving the board’s investment decisions. That comes as no surprise to us. As we explained last month, Mr. Bradley this year successfully pushed for the hiring of a new investment consultant with which Mr. Agosto had previous business contacts. And the largest campaign contribution Mr. Bradley received in his 2008 re-election bid was from a former professional colleague of Mr. Agosto.

We should be clear: we have no proof that Mr. Bradley, Mr. Agosto and other board members have broken the law. But an investigation into these growing ethics concerns seems justified. Moreover, two other current members of the board’s Finance Committee — Gail Lowe, R-Lampasas, and Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond — should explain their votes to hire the investment consultant Bradley and Agosto wanted. And Don McLeroy, R-College Station, who served on the board’s Finance Committee last year, also voted to hire the same investment consultant. What did they all know about these ethics concerns, and why did they look the other way?

The Legislature’s failure this spring to remove the board’s authority over the Permanent School Fund appears even more troubling now. Parents should be assured that decisions made about their children’s education aren’t the result of vote trading involving financial shenanigans by state board members.

7 thoughts on “New Revelations on SBOE Ethics Concerns

  1. Uh-oh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The cow pie has sure hit the fan now. It’s nothing else but downhill from here. Politicians don’t survive stuff like this. All gone. All gone. Party’s over. Seppuku.

  2. I hope the demise of the SBOE is long, ugly, and very, very painful for the corrupt SBOE members.

    They will all be exposed and hopefully prosecuted, fined, and jailed. We can only hope.

  3. I thought you might be interested in the following article:,0,7817347.story

    The article is correct but leaves the impression that the Religious Right and its supporters are like the Borg. “Resistence is futile.” It would be futile if the strategy were to win by converting them. As the author says, that is impossible.

    For us, the path to victory is to enlighten the many fence-sitting people who have not gone over to the dark side that we call the Religious right. In addition, I would like to reiterate a point that I have made here on previous occasions. The Religious Right and its melding with unBiblical and quite unChristian politcal aims has left it open to the prospect of theological devastation. You could have a field day dropping Biblical and theological bombs on what these people espouse—the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. For example, a good target would be that piece of filthy trash that Richard Land offered up about health care in the recent Values Voter Summit. The average man and woman sitting on the fence must be brought to understand that the adherents of the Religious Right are unwitting and deceived servants of evil. The church of Jesus Christ has a responsibility here, and it needs to be taking that responsibility by the horns and translating it into action out on the streets.

  4. When Ann Richards was Governor of Texas, all appointees to State Commissions and Boards were REQUIRED to attend an orientation which incuded a lecture by Barbara Jordan on ethics and legal details for all appointees.

    Apparentley Gov. Perry’s appoointees either don’t have this requirement, or just ignore all ethics!

  5. Charles, organizations like TFN, Talk2Action, ReligiousDispatches, etc. are vital to the battle against fundamentalists, by informing as much as possible, but here’s an article from one of my favorite bloggers, a science writer named Ed Brayton, who points out why it’s not as easy as just pointing out how wrong they are, because even the MSM is willing to pass along the deceit:

    By the way, that’s a very interesting column, thanks for that.