Lt. Gov. Dewhurst amends financial disclosuresBy Jay Root
July 17, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — Multimillionaire Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who has drawn criticism for revealing scant details about his vast wealth, amended past financial filings Friday and disclosed information including his stake in several investment funds.
The Republican sent the Texas Ethics Commission two corrected financial statements covering 2007 and 2008 filings. The new disclosures show Dewhurst holds a stake in several funds, including assets managed by Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and the TCP Investment Fund II LP.
A watchdog group filed a formal complaint with Travis County prosecutors in September after The Associated Press raised questions about the lack of detail in his personal financial statements. Travis County Attorney David Escamilla, a Democrat who investigates allegations of misdemeanor offenses by public officials, said his probe is finished.
"By them agreeing to move forward and file the amended reports, we believe there is no question that they're in compliance," Escamilla said.
Escamilla said he hired a forensic accountant to pore over Dewhurst's tax returns to determine whether he had violated the law. Escamilla said he found no "intent to deceive" on Dewhurst's part but called on the ethics commission or Legislature to clarify often vague legal requirements.
Dewhurst said his failure to disclose the information was "inadvertent" and stressed he had carefully followed lawyers' advice of in filing his financial disclosures.
"I appreciate the professional and thorough manner in which the County Attorney conducted his review," Dewhurst said in a written statement.
Earlier disclosure documents did not reveal that the former CIA agent, through a privately held trust, was a major shareholder in a Houston energy and investment company. There also was no mention of Dewhurst's far-flung cattle ranches, private bank investments or luxury condo. Nor was there any word of the hedge funds, stocks and bonds or publicly traded fuel distribution company he acknowledges are or have been part of a trust fund estimated to be worth up to $200 million.
It just said the David Dewhurst Trust is valued at "$25,000 or more."
As lieutenant governor, Dewhurst presides over the state Senate and wields tremendous influence over legislation. He is considering a run for higher office next year. He has for years kept most of his wealth hidden in a trust whose major assets were not disclosed.
The lack of detail prompted a complaint by Texans for Public Justice, a liberal watchdog group based in Austin. Director Craig McDonald applauded Escamilla's review but said the ethics commission should levy civil penalties for the lieutenant governor's "noncompliance with the disclosure laws over the past years."
"(Lt.) Governor Dewhurst's financial disclosures fall under the category of better late than never — and better something rather than nothing," McDonald said.
The fresh disclosures mark the second time this year Dewhurst has changed how he reported wealth. In April, Dewhurst announced he was forming a blind trust. Though previous statements had revealed existence of the David Dewhurst Trust, it wasn't a blind trust — an investment tool designed to create a legal firewall between public service and personal business dealings.
Dewhurst's brother Eugene and longtime business associate Martin Young were installed as trustees of the newly created David Dewhurst Blind Trust. Both have signed sworn affidavits saying they would not reveal detailed information about the blind trust to Dewhurst.
In the corrected financial statements released Friday, Dewhurst revealed he owns a stake in several "blind-pool funds" managed by professional investment firms. Among them were funds managed by Goldman Sachs, including GS Global Alpha Fund; GS Global Equity Opportunities Fund, LLC; GS GMS Alpha Plus Portfolio; GS Capital Partners V Institutional, LP; Archon Core Plus Real Estate Fund 2005, LP; and Caribbean Real Estate Opportunity Fund 2005, LP.
Dewhurst earlier this year disclosed a stake in Falcon Seaboard Investment Company, LP.