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Sid Miller and the Jesus Shot

I have three things to say about this.

DoubleFacepalm

Less than a month after taking office, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller flew to Oklahoma City with a top aide, billing the taxpayers at least $1,120 for flights and a rental car, budget records show.

At the time, Miller said he made the trip to tour the Oklahoma National Stockyards and meet with Oklahoma lawmakers as well as the state’s top agriculture official. His office posted a picture on Facebook of him with three lawmakers who his office said had invited him to the Sooner State’s Capitol.

Recent interviews have cast doubt on that description, however. All of the lawmakers in the photograph, or their aides, said they did not invite Miller or even expect him in their state that day in February 2015. The president of the stockyards said it did not give him a tour. And Miller himself now acknowledges that he requested the meeting with the Oklahoma agriculture official – and then did not show up.

A rental car receipt shows Miller and his aide drove 128 miles on the trip.

The interviews suggest a possible explanation: One of the lawmakers and another person with direct knowledge of the trip both said Miller told them that he got a medical procedure while in Oklahoma.

Miller, a former rodeo cowboy who suffers from chronic pain, told the Houston Chronicle earlier this year he has received the “Jesus Shot,” a controversial but legal medication administered only by a single Oklahoma City-area doctor who claims that it takes away all pain for life.

Miller declined to confirm or deny whether he received the injection during the February 2015 trip.

The agriculture commissioner insisted that the trip was a business trip that served state taxpayers. If nothing else, Miller said, the Facebook picture proves that he met with Oklahoma lawmakers.

Still, one of those lawmakers described his talk with Miller as nothing more than a brief chat that started in a hallway.

Aides to the others agreed.

“He’s saying that was the business purpose of his trip?” Rep. Jerry Shoemake said. “Really?”

In response to questions about the trip, Miller’s office said late Thursday that he had decided to pay back the flight and rental car costs.

“Out of an abundance of caution the commissioner is reimbursing the state for the cost of this trip,” spokeswoman Lucy Nashed said in an email. “He will continue to work on behalf of the agriculture industry in the Lone Star State, and travel across the country and around the world to identify new markets for Texas agricultural exports in order to grow the industry and create jobs for hardworking Texans.”

1. If you’re going to steal, steal big. Sid Miller earns $137,500 a year. Surely he could afford to drive to Oklahoma and pay $1100 for a shot, assuming his finances aren’t a complete mess. Why go to all this trouble for such a little payoff? I grant that Sid Miller isn’t terribly concerned about his reputation, but I don’t get taking this kind of risk for something so insubstantial.

2. In a better world, Miller’s clown show would be something that Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick would have to address. Sure, they’re not Miller’s keeper, but they are his colleagues in state government, and it’s entirely appropriate for them to be asked what they think about this. We don’t live in that world, of course. National media can go wall-to-wall with a story and force politicians who don’t want to answer certain questions to at least be asked them, but that’s not how it is here. This is something Rick Perry didn’t understand before his ill-fated Presidential run in 2012.

3. I firmly believe that the Republican hegemony in Texas is unsustainable, at least with the kind of Republicans we have now. It could last for awhile, and they have the resources to keep it on the shelves long past its sell-by date, but it will come to an end. If there’s one thing that I believe will hasten this end, it’s scandal and corruption. Ken Paxton and his felony indictments is an obvious problem for them, but Sid Miller shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s one thing to be a clown, it’s another to be a clown who steals. That’s a lot harder to laugh off, and it has the potential to taint those around him. When that will happen, I can’t say. But I feel confident that sooner or later it will.

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3 Comments

  1. PDiddie says:

    I still wake up at night wondering why Democrats voted for Junior Samples in this race. (And yes, I know the answer is ‘straight-ticket voting’).

  2. brad m says:

    When I saw the words “former rodeo cowboy” in your article my mind read “former rodeo clown”. I can totally see the exaggerated face paint now on Miller.

    Straight party voting is the work of the devil.

    I wonder how much Republican straight party ticket voting will be impacted in November with Trump at the top of the ticket.

  3. […] here for the background. This will be an interesting test of that new procedure, as defined by the Lege […]