Dewhurst adds to Ethics committee

The Houston Chronicle reports that Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst has appointed a new Democrat to the Texas Ethics Commission. As I noted back in December, Dewhurst had previously been considering former Congressman Craig Washington for the post. However, on Friday, it was determined that former State Representative Wilhemina Delco would be appointed to the position.

Delco was first nominated by State Senator Kirk Watson (D-Travis County), the de facto Senate Minority Leader. Likewise, Delco served in office from the capital area and continues to reside there to this day. Delco, 84, has a long and illustrious career in public service. She was first elected to public office in 1968, to the AISD School Board, being the first African-American person (much less, a woman) elected to office in Austin. In 1976, she was elected to the Texas House, where she served for ten terms.

Again, the way that the Texas Ethics Commission is set up, the body must be bipartisan. Accordingly, many seats must be filled by Democrats, including this one. Many actors, including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House, are given the task of appointing. As noted above, Dewhurst took this action at the behest of Sen. Watson, and I highly doubt he arrived at the conclusion himself based on any personal relationship with Deco. Dewhurst started to work for the State of Texas in 1999; Delco stopped in 1995.

Speaking of the Ethics Commission, as was noted two days ago as well by the Houston Chronicle, the body will face some tough decisions in upcoming months. Specifically, a proposal has been floated –and the commission recently voted to move it forward– to begin regulating alleged dark money in elections.

The proposal, put forth by Steve Bresnen, would compel most of these groups –largely 501(c)4s and Super PACs– to be “dragged into the sunlight” by revealing many of their donors. In fact, the proposed regulations, in many ways, mirror a bill passed by the Legislature this past session, only to be vetoed by the Governor.

Accordingly, it will be important for all competent hands to be on deck. I have faith Rep. Delco will be one.

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