Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Texas Supreme Court Justice Hecht's (Alleged) Illegal Campaign Contributions

Or alternate title, "I, Nathan Hecht, swear to uphold the law, except when it applies to collecting contributions for my own campaign or legal defense."

Justice Hecht, of the Texas Supreme Court, has been fined for violating camapaign contribution/fundraising laws. This all stems from him throwing all his weight behind W.'s soon-to-be-doomed U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers (good judgement shown there by Justice Hecht). The Texas State Commmission on Judicial Conduct determined that Hecht had violated ethics cannons by using his judicial office to promote a candidate and/or abused his position. What did Hecht do? He lawyered up and got help from the biggest law firms and PAC's in Texas (Vinson & Elkins, Baker Botts and the firm where Miers landed after leaving Washington, now Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell, Hillco PAC, funded largely by home builder Bob Perry, and Texans for Lawsuit Reform, backed by Big Insurance) to fight the Commission's findings. Why did these heavy hitters help him out? Maybe because the Republican Texas Supreme Court votes for Insurance and Big Business over 85% of the time in cases before it. And maybe these big firms and PAC's service Big Insurance and Big Business. That's just a guess.

Hecht and his team of lawyers got the Commission's ethics decision overturned. But, in doing so Hecht demonstrated more bad judgement. Hecht received this help with his legal battle at a signifcant discount. How significant you ask? Over $150,000.00 in discounts. Moreover, in soliciting help from these big firms and PAC's, Hecht wrote a letter (never put your solicitation for free help in writing!) that read that the discounted help would be an, ""in-kind contribution", to his campaign. But, then Hecht didn't report the massive discount in his legal bills as a campaign contribution. And that's not allowed. The Texas Campaign Ethics Commission fined him $29,000.00 over the illegal campaign contributions.

What's Hecht going to do now? Pay it? Ha! Yeah, right. I don't know for sure but, I expect him, true to form, to lawyer up and fight this fine (by the way a $29,000.00 for over $150,000.00 in illegal campaign contributions? Sounds like a profit thing to me). Why shouldn't he fight it? He has a stable of lawyers ready and who is going to hear his appeal? Oh, that's right, more Republican judges that owe their bread and butter to Big Insurance and Big Business. Again though, that's just a guess.

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