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Complaint: Wendy Davis failed to disclose income, lobbyist ties

By   /   January 29, 2014  /   No Comments

By Jon Cassidy │ Watchdog.org

State Sen. Wendy Davis has had a string of self-inflicted injuries this month. Photo by Kevin Sutherland.

State Sen. Wendy Davis has had a string of self-inflicted injuries this month. Photo by Kevin Sutherland.

HOUSTON – An ethics complaint filed against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis this week argues that Davis has failed to disclose all of her sources of income and ties to lobbyists, as required by state law.

According to the complaint, Davis failed to disclose more than $25,000 in interest and dividends she earned from 2010 to 2012 on the personal financial statements she filed those years. Davis also failed to disclose that she was paid by the employer of a lobbyist — namely, the law firm of Cantey Hanger, LLP.

Cantey Hanger lists Davis as “of counsel” to the firm. It also employed two lobbyists for 2012, according to its lobby registration list on file with the Texas Ethics Commission. These were Marcy Weldin Foster and Gov. Rick Perry‘s former chief of staff, Brian C. Newby, who also happens to be Davis’ partner in the firm of Newby Davis, PLLC.

Davis did disclose her partnership with Newby, as required.

The ethics complaint was filed Monday by Lou Ann Anderson, the editor of Watchdog Wire – Texas, a citizen journalism initiative of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity.

Anderson found the undisclosed income on Davis’ own tax returns, which she recently made public.

“What I found were questions — questions that it doesn’t take being a CPA, a lawyer or other government policy analyst to recognize,” Anderson said. “Information (for the cited years) provided to the IRS is far more detailed than information provided to the Texas Ethics Commission as mandated by state law. That mandate exists in support of government transparency. It exists so the public can identify potential conflicts of interest, so voters can have a tool to monitor that public interests are not usurped by self-interested elected officials.”

Anderson’s discovery caps a month of self-inflicted injuries for the Davis campaign.

Earlier this month, her campaign accused the Republican candidate for governor, Greg Abbott, of accepting “nearly $400,000” in donations from the payday lending industry, when the actual figure was $99,000.

Then came the news that the life story Davis had been telling — one about a single mother conquering all obstacles — ignored inconvenient facts, such as her marriage.

“The recent controversy over Davis’ selective use of reality to provide a campaign-friendly life narrative prompted curiosity if this same approach is used in other information disclosure areas,” Anderson said. “A review of her financial disclosures suggests the data provided for constituents’ benefit as lacking. In my book, any public official or individual aspiring to office — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or anyone else – who resists transparency is troubling.”

The Davis campaign hasn’t responded to a request for comment.

Contact Jon Cassidy at jon@watchdog.org or @jpcassidy000.

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Jon Cassidy is the Texas bureau chief for Watchdog.org. He also writes a weekly column on politics for The American Spectator. He was formerly a reporter and editor for The Orange County Register in California and a reporter at The Hill in Washington, D.C. His work has been published by Fox News, Reason, The Federalist, Human Events, and other publications. He is a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow and a graduate of the University of Southern California. He and his wife Michelle live just outside Houston with their two children.

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