Friday, November 03, 2006
Van Os to media: question Abbott's use of public funds
OPEN LETTER TO THE NEWS MEDIA
David Van Os urges the news media to pursue common sense questions about Greg Abbott's use of state property in his political campaign.
Statement of David Van Os:
The attorney general of Texas, the state's top lawyer, has publicly admitted through a spokesman that he is using, in his political campaign, videos that he produced with state property and state employees in his capacity as attorney general. All state employees know they cannot convert state property to private purposes and that they cannot use state time or resources for personal business, and most state employees would question Greg Abbott's political use of state videos that were produced with state equipment under his own direction as a state employee. Is Abbott privileged to give himself special rules with special exceptions?
I urge the news media to pursue these questions they have not pursued thus far:
- At the time the videos were being produced, did Greg Abbott know that he was going to be running for office in 2006? A simple review of his political fundraising reports discloses that he has been raising money for a 2006 race since at least 2003.
- At the time Candidate Abbott's campaign submitted the open records request to Attorney General Abbott for the videos, how did the campaign know about the videos?
- Does Greg Abbott exercise authority over his campaign's actions? Does Candidate Abbott approve of the contents of his television commercials and campaign website? Was Candidate Abbott unaware of the use of the state produced videos in his campaign ads and website before the ads and website were published?
- When did Candidate Abbott first know that his campaign was submitting open records requests for the videos? Did Candidate Abbott approve of his campaign making the requests? When did Attorney General Abbott first know that Candidate Abbott's campaign was submitting the requests?
- Is Greg Abbott familiar with Texas Penal Code Section 39.02? Does the fact that Candidate Abbott submitted an open records request to Attorney General Abbott mean we should act as if Candidate Abbott did not know he had produced the videos as Attorney General? Does it mean we should act as if Attorney General Abbott did not know he was asking himself for the videos?
- Does Greg Abbott hold himself as Attorney General to ethical standards that include avoidance of conflicts of interest?
- Does Greg Abbott perceive no conflict of interest in using an open records request from himself to himself to obtain the personal use of state-produced videos?
- Did Greg Abbott consider the possibility that the transaction reflected a conflict of interest?
- If Greg Abbott the person was ignorant of the transaction, does that absolve him of responsibility for either or both sides of the transaction that was conducted in his name from himself to himself?
- If Greg Abbott the person was ignorant of the transaction, what kinds of ethical standards does he require in the Attorney General's office, and in the Abbott campaign?
- Do the ethical standards in either organization include recognition of conflicts of interest?
- Why didn't Greg Abbott ask a lawyer not connected with his public office or his campaign to render an independent opinion about his use of the videos in his political campaign?
- When Greg Abbott's spokesman publicly claims that the transaction is legal, is he speaking on behalf of Candidate Abbott or Attorney General Abbott, or both?
- Is there a conflict of interest in Greg Abbott publicly pronouncing the transaction to be legal when Candidate Greg Abbott is receiving a benefit from the transaction?
- Since Candidate Abbott is the same person as Attorney General Abbott, who can the public count on to independently monitor the legality of the transaction?
posted by snarko! at 12:07 PM
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