Governor Rick Perry has just signed a controversial bill requiring local officials to fully disclose their financial statements. You'll recall several Lubbock officials, including Mayor Marc McDougal, said two weeks ago they would step down if the governor signed this bill.
Those local officials are now rethinking. The bill requires local officials like the mayor, the city manager and city councilmen to fill out a full financial disclosure document. This ethics bill requires officials to disclose salaries, stocks, bonds, real estate and all other financial accounts. But great detail is not required regarding income and assets. The disclosure amounts are bracketed.
So, for example, if the official has stock in a company, they will be required to tell us how much. The options are less than $5,000, $5 to 10,000, $10 to 25,000, or $25,000 or more. Representative Delwin Jones sums it up. "So, if you've got a million dollars worth of stock, the biggest bracket you check is more than $25,000. Same goes for liabilities. You could have a billion in debt, but you only have to check $25,000 or more," says Jones.
Representative Jones says the whole point of this is to keep politicians from lying and keep them honest when it comes to conflicts of interest. "For example, if I owned substantial stock in Kodak, and a bill came up providing incentives for Kodak, if I voted on that it might be for personal gain motives," says Jones.
Meantime, those public officials who said they would resign are now rethinking. Mayor Marc McDougal and Councilman Gary Boren say they want to look at the final version before they make any decisions. They say they have not seen the final version. That's because the Mayor says the Governor would not call him back.
"I'm not surprised the Governor signed it. A number of mayors, council members and school board members across the state have been calling the Governor's office and we haven't gotten a response," says McDougal.
Bottom line, the question yet to be answered is, 'will they still resign?' That depends on who has to disclose what, and how much?