Visions of Grand Jury

Well, the Texas Ethics Commission finally issued their judgment on the complaints that Mike “Don’t Call Me Lois Lerner” failed to register as the paid lobbyist he really is. The verdict? Guilty. They laid out his violations rather clearly, gave him the maximum fine possible, and alluded to some possible future legal issues.

Here is the bottom line (as I predicted):

“…Sullivan is a paid lobbyist who is required to register under Texas law.”

The Commission was also not amused with the way Mike refused to testify, and they made Mike’s lawyer, Joe Nixon—who himself has been fined by the TEC—look like he had a half-baked game plan and a rather weak grasp of constitutional law:

“Mr. Sullivan’s lawyer explained that Mr. Sullivan was asserting his rights under the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment as a basis for his refusal to testify. Mr. Sullivan did not invoke a Fifth Amendment right not to testify.”

Okay, Nixon…what’s that about? Your client took the Fifth.

The Chair overruled Nixon’s objections and asked him to explain a basis for this purported “right” not to testify. Nixon had none and provided:

“…no support for Mr. Sullivan’s global refusal to answer questions on subjects such as his employment with Empower Texans and related entities and his direct contact with legislators to influence legislation.”

My lawyer friends tell me that is the equivalent of getting dunked on… ouch Joe Nixon. Tim Dunn needs to hire better lawyers for his minion. They went on to point out that his failure to speak only allowed the Commission to assume that he had something to hide:

“However, Mr. Sullivan’s abject and unjustified refusal to answer questions before the Commission permitted the Commission to draw inferences adverse to Mr. Sullivan that supported the allegations of the sworn complaints.”

Oops? I wonder if Nixon thought his strategy through? Probably not.

The most interesting finding was definitely the destruction of records:

“However, the evidentiary record at the formal hearing revealed hundreds of pages of direct communications from Mr. Sullivan located in the files of Texas legislators that were not produced pursuant to the subpoena… Sullivan and Empower Texans have destroyed or lost thousands of emails sent to members of the Legislature during 2010 and 2011…“

Should we start calling him Mike “Lois Lerner” Sullivan? Some are saying this issue could actually create criminal liabilities for Mike.

Before the ruling, Mike appeared on a local TV show in Dallas and acted his usual self-righteous self as he tried to belittle an entity designed to hold people like him accountable. He went on to basically lie in front of the cameras, and God and everyone else, saying that he “rarely speaks to legislators and didn’t destroy emails”.

Coming on the heels of Mike taking the Fifth at the Ethics Commission hearing recently, his comments on TV show why he did so. He parsed his answers very carefully, but even reporter Wayne Slater commented that it was clear that he lobbies the legislature, but more importantly, he probably did destroy emails that were subject of a lawfully issued subpoena.

This is bad stuff, folks. And when this starts rolling backwards on Dunn and his operatives, watch for the smart members to run far away from them very quickly. Being the recipient of the largesse of an entity convicted of violating state civil and criminal statutes is poison to a candidate in a campaign.

In that TV interview, Mike said the Commission had “delusions of grandeur”. His ridiculous refusal to testify during a trial while invoking the incorrect constitutional rights only to not invoke the one constitutional right that would allow him not to testify (and implicate himself) and claim it’s because of some witch hunt against him… one might ask if this “guardian of transparency” is really the one needing a reality check.

You can view the whole order here:
http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/sworncomp/2012/3120488.pdf

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