A certain lack of timingStar-Telegram Editorial
April 16, 2004
Like a bad stand-up comedian, Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick consistently has a problem with timing.
This week, the Midland Republican disbanded the House Select Committee on Ethics -- this at a time when he and other members of the Legislature are subjects of a Travis County grand jury investigation about possible illegal campaign contributions.
Craddick, who appointed the committee in 2003 with a charge of overseeing ethics of government officers, lobbying and financial disclosure, certainly had the right to dissolve the panel. But the timing was bad, and the decision not surprisingly drew immediate criticism from some House Democrats.
The committee had concluded its work, the speaker said, so there was no reason for it to continue operating.
Ethics issues and questions, however, have always arisen in state government, and they won't go away any time soon -- something that Craddick surely knows, given that he wrote a 1991 ethics bill that the Democrats killed.
Rather than doing away with such a committee, the speaker ought to propose that a standing body on ethics be created to provide continuous oversight for the sticky issues that arise concerning legislators and the people who try to influence them.