Recent history of crimes by Texas lawmakers

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This week, two more members of the Texas House called on Poncho Nevarez (D) to resign from office. The calls come after Nevarez was found to have dropped an envelope full of cocaine at the Austin airport in early September.

Reps. Mike Lang (R-Granbury) and Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) added their names to the list of lawmakers who have already called for Nevarez’s resignation.

While the Democrat from Eagle Pass has said he will not seek reelection in 2020, Nevarez remains chairman of the powerful Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee. He’s also racking up time on the job which might be padding his pension.

In light of the Nevarez charing, pending legal case, and questions about why he has yet to resign, we thought it would be interesting to take a survey of recent criminal prosecutions of elected officials in Texas.

Another motivating factor, coverage of the Nevarez debacle in the Texas Monthly, took an opportunity to lash out at lawmakers (exclusively conservatives) who have not been charged or convicted of crimes while ignored the list below, likely because Democrats dominate it.

Below are cases involving state-level officeholders from the last 15 years.*

In 2003 former Attorney General Dan Morales (D) pleaded guilty to altering government records and giving an attorney friend more than $500 million from a $17.3 billion tobacco company settlement fund.

In 2010 former Rep. Kino Flores (D) was found guilty on 11 counts of perjury and tampering with government records. Flores was convicted of failing to disclose sources of income, real estate holdings, and gifts per state filing requirements.

In 2010 former Rep. Terri Hodge (D) pleaded guilty to failing to report money and gifts she received to the IRS. Caught up in an investigation into Dallas City hall corruption, Hodge was sentenced to a year in prison.

In 2011, former Rep. Joe Driver (R) pleaded guilty to abuse-of-office for double-dipping when he hit his campaign and state travel account for expenses.

In 2011 former Rep. Jim Solis (D) pleaded guilty to helping former state District Judge Abel C. Limas with a racketeering scheme. As an attorney, Solis admitted to paying the Judge Limas $8,000 for favorable rulings.

In 2013 former Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D) El Paso was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. Gonzalez was named one of the ten worst legislators in 2013 because of her actions at the scene of her arrest and “unseemly” statements on the House floor.

In 2017 Rep. Victoria Neave (D) was arrested for driving while intoxicated. During her arrest, it was reported by WFAA that she was uncooperative and told officers, “I love you, and I will fight for you, and I’m invoking my 5th Amendment rights.” She pleaded no contest.

In 2018 former Sen. Carlos Uresti (D) was sentenced to 12-years in prison in June 2018 and ordered to pay $6.3 million in restitution after being convicted of 11 felonies for his role in a Ponzi scheme. In a separate federal case, Uresti was sentenced to five years on a bribery charge. The sentences are being served concurrently.

In 2018 former Rep. Rene Oliveira (D) was arrested for driving while intoxicated shortly before his defeat in the primary. A woman stopped at a light was hit from behind by a Cadillac, later found parked at Oliveira’s House. After the accident, the woman was handed a card and was told everything would be taken care of; the card was Oliveira’s.

In 2018 Rep. Ron Reynolds (D) turned himself into authorities to serve a year-long sentence for illegally soliciting clients for his legal practice. He was convicted in 2015 and exhausted his appeals before heading to jail.

In 2018 former Congressman Steve Stockman was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of 23 felonies, including fraud and the misuse of $1.25 million donated to nonprofits run by Stockman.

*Are we missing any cases? Drop us a line, and we’ll get it added to the list.

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