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Texas Chief Justice Nathan Hecht violates laws involving campaign expenditures

 

October 25, 2021 

Texas Ethics Commission

To: Ms. Marilyn Langston – Disclosure Filings

To: Nick Espinosa - Director of Enforcement

 

Re: Multiple violations of the Election Code involving Campaign Expenditures

 

Violator:

Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht

201 West 14th Street

Austin, Texas 78701

(512) 463-1312

 

Dear Ms. Langston and Mr. Espinosa:

 

Re: Chief Justice Texas Supreme Court Nathan Hecht

 

The following facts, all gleaned from records submitted to the Ethics Commission by Justice Hecht establish multiple violations of the Texas Ethics Laws. Each violation will be addressed under separate headings below.

 

Improperly billing campaign for magazine/newspaper subscriptions

 

The Sworn Complaint No. SC-280294 (per my filing) involving Judge Adolph Canales states in relevant part:

 

  • “The reading of the Wall Street Journal is not necessary to maintaining a law license or fulfilling legal education requirements.”
  • “It appears that the subscription primarily furthers personal purposes and is not connected with a senior judge’s duties or activities as an officeholder.”

A: Newspapers/Magazine and Radio subscriptions

Date

Name

Cost

Description

Category

03/01/2021

Dow Jones & C0.

$506.48

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

02/29/2020

Dow Jones & C0.

$506.48

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

03/01/2019

Dow Jones & C0.

$480.50

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

03/08/2018

Dow Jones & C0.

$428.54

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

11/25/2019

Sirius

$264.85

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

10/01/2018

New Yorker Mag

$414.75

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

11/03/2016

Washington Post

$149.99

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

03/07/2016

Wall Street Journal

$370.84

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

02/29/2016

Wall Street Journal

$370.84

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

03/07/2015

Wall Street Journal

$319.67

Officeholder subscription

Office overhead/rental expense

 

 

$3,812.94

 

 

 

As to the Sirius radio billing, it is obvious that Hecht has applied this cost to his own personal vehicle because his expense reports do not have any entries dealing with a campaign vehicle. Put simply, this is without doubt an illegal personal use of campaign funds. Clearly, Hecht’s contributors should not be billed so that he can enjoy listening to his favorite oldies but goodies songs and/or rap music. 

 

Likewise, subscriptions to Dow Jones have absolutely nothing to do with Hecht’s judicial duties or activities as an officeholder. The same is true of the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and the New Yorker Magazine.

 

B. Improper billing for New York Times subscriptions

The facts below establish that Chief Justice Hecht has been involved in a years-long violations in billing his campaign to pay for the costs of subscriptions to the New York Times.

 

2021 = $29.82 x 6 = $175.26

2020 = $21.32 x 2 + $29.82 x 5 = $191.74

2019 = $21.32 x 13 = $277.16

2018 = $21.32 x 14 = $298.48

Grand Total = $924.64

 

C. Improperly billing campaign for Meals in Austin

 

Ethics Advisory Opinion No. 241 stands for the proposition that an officeholder’s meals in Austin cannot be charged to his/her campaign because any officeholder whether a legislator or judge would incur meals whether he/she resided in Austin. As you know, the Supreme Court of Texas has its offices in Austin.

 

D: Officeholder Court Dinners and Breakfast in Austin

Date

Location

Establishment

Description

Cost

08/18/2019

Austin

Austin Women’s Club

Officeholder Court Dinner

$369.58

12/30/2019

Austin

Central Market

Officeholder Court Dinner

$335.85

12/16/2019

Austin

Guerro’s Catering

Officeholder Court Dinner

$182.58

10/02/2016

Austin

HEB

Officeholder Court Breakfast

$7.45

12/06/2019

Austin

HEB

Officeholder Court Dinner

$22.06

12/30/2019

Austin

HEB

Officeholder Court Breakfast

$6.77

12/30/2019

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Court Lunch

$39.05

10/02/2019

Austin

Taco Shack

Officeholder Court Breakfast

$56.31

12/30/2019

Austin

Taco Shack

Officeholder Court Breakfast

$56.31

12/11/2019

Austin

Asti Tratoria

Officeholder Dinner

$216.78

09/09/2019

Austin

Perry’s

Officeholder Dinner

$544.37

03/13/2019

Austin

Eddie V’s

Officeholder Dinner

$301.41

03/01/2019

Austin

Flemings

Officeholder Dinner

$671.23

06/12/2019

Austin

Hopdoddy

Officeholder Dinner

$100.24

07/09/2018

Austin

HEB

Officeholder Lunch

$77.30

09/28/2018

Austin

Flemings

Officeholder Dinner

$456.71

07/28/2018

Austin

Siena

Officeholder Dinner

$326.43

12/28/2018

Austin

Siena

Officeholder Dinner

$373.92

 

 

 

 

$4,144.35

 

E: Officeholder Meals at Headliners in Austin

Date

Location

Establishment

Description

Cost

01/08/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$261.16

01/12/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$215.00

02/06/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$191.82

02/15/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$140.00

03/06/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$176.97

03/08/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$236.00

04/11/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$215.00

05/16/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$140.00

06/06/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$119.23

06/15/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$140.00

08/07/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$77.03

09/06/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$891.40

10/10/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$347.35

11/06/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$442.22

12/06/2018

Austin

Headliners

Officeholder Meals

$11.91

 

 

 

 

$3,605.09

 

 

F. Billing to attend American Academy of Arts & Science Meetings in Cambridge, MA

  • 07/16/2018 = $132.53 Meridien Hotel – dinner in Boston
  • 07/17/2018 = $142.97 Meridien Hotel – dinner in Boston

What in the world would does the Academy of Arts & Science have to do with Hecht’s judicial duties and/or his officeholder duties? It is a total farce and over-the-top abuse of the Ethics Laws and a “thumb in the eye” to his contributors.

 

And lastly, if you refuse to accept this fact-based complaint for any reason, I’m hopeful that you will take the proper steps to initiate your own investigation to assure that this type of years-long violations of the Ethics Rules does not go unpunished. This is especially true when we are dealing with the titular head of the Texas Judicial and Legal System.

 

Pleas provide me with a copy of Chief Justice Hecht’s response to this complaint.

 

Respectfully yours,

 

Dave Palmer

Folsom, California

 

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