The Texas Ethics Commission has levied a record $100,000 fine against Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Presiding Judge Sharon Keller for failing to make full financial disclosures in 2007 and 2008.
The commission in an order made public on its Web site today said Keller in 2006 failed to report between 100-499 shares of stock, $61,500 in income, interests in eight properties valued that year at $2.4 million and two expenses accepted under the honorarium exception for $3,760
The commission said in 2007 Keller failed to report the stock, nine sources of income totaling $121,500 and two honoraria valued at $6,010. She also failed to report the eight properties again, then valued at $2.8 million.
Keller last year filed amended reports making the disclosures. She said her father made investments for her and her son without her knowledge.
You can read the order here. Apparently, they had as much sympathy for her defense as she usually does for most appellants that appear before her. As the Trib notes, this makes Keller the holder of the Biggest Fine Ever Levied By The TEC record. Nice job!
And there’s more. As Coby notes, unlike previous record holder Jerry Eversole, Keller doesn’t have a zillion dollars in her campaign account, so either she gets to pay this out of her own money, or she gets some Republican sugar daddy to write her a check. And as Grits notes, the great irony in all this is that the ethics complaint against her began at a time when her attorney was arguing that the state should pay for her legal fees in the matter of the judicial conduct complaint against her. A story in the DMN about all of her undisclosed finances put the lie to her plea that she was just too poor to pay for her attorney. There’s still a criminal complaint pending against her in Travis County as well. Now that the TEC has ruled, we may hear something about it. Been quite the busy week for old business, hasn’t it?
UPDATE: I somehow overlooked in my initial reading of the story the fact that Keller says she will appeal the fine.
“Judge Keller is very disappointed by the excessive penalty assessed against her by the Texas Ethics Commission,” [her attorney Ed] Shack said. “As the commission found, Judge Keller voluntarily amended her financial disclosures shortly after she was made aware of the matter. And her conduct was not intentional, but rather the product of her father’s acquisition and management of properties without any input from her.”
The irony of this whole saga just staggers me.