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Tony Tinderholt School Safety Amendments Appear to Violate State Ethics Laws

Will Speaker Phelan enforce House Rules and State Law to address Tinderholt’s corrupt efforts to enrich himself?

State Representative Tony Tinderholt (Republican – HD 94, Arlington) offered, spoke in support of, and voted for amendments to school safety legislation that would expand the eligibility for state funds to train and pay salaries for armed school security guards. The Tinderholt amendments would allow funds to be directed to private security firms like the one he himself serves as a principal officer. Tinderholt’s actions appear to be in direct violation of the State Constitution, House Rules, and other state statutes barring Legislators from using their position to personally benefit or enrich themselves.

Here is what Tinderholt did:
During consideration of a relatively noncontroversial bill HB 3 intended to enhance security in Texas public schools, Tony Tinderholt quietly slipped in two amendments that would allow schools to use the funds to contract with security firms to pay for armed guards. At no time while laying out his amendments did Tinderholt disclose that he is a senior partner in Tier One, a for-profit private security firm that specifically markets to schools to provide security. House members, clearly not aware of Tinderholt’s personal interest and likely financial gain, passed both amendments on bipartisan votes.

Here is what the law says:
Our State Constitution, House Rules, and the State Code address the type of improper action taken by Tinderholt directly.

•    State Constitution
Article 3, Section 22.  DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL OR PRIVATE INTEREST IN MEASURE OR BILL; NOT TO VOTE:  A member who has a personal or private interest in any measure or bill, proposed, or pending before the Legislature, shall disclose the fact to the House, of which he is a member, and shall not vote thereon.

•    State House Rules
House Rule 5, Section 42, page 103. DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL OR PRIVATE INTEREST: Any member who has a personal or private interest in any measure or bill proposed or pending before the house shall disclose the fact and not vote thereon.

•    State Government Code
Sec. 572.001. POLICY; LEGISLATIVE INTENT: It is the policy of this state that a state officer or state employee may not have a direct or indirect interest, including financial and other interests, or engage in a business transaction or professional activity, or incur any obligation of any nature that is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of the officer’s or employee’s duties in the public interest.

To implement this policy and to strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this state in state government, this chapter provides standards of conduct and disclosure requirements to be observed by persons owing a responsibility to the people and government of this state in the performance of their official duties.

It is the intent of the legislature that this chapter serve not only as a guide for official conduct of those persons but also as a basis for discipline of those who refuse to abide by its terms.

Statement of Lone Star Project Director Matt Angle 

“Tony Tinderholt is not worried about keeping kids safe. He is worried about making money. Cashing in on kids is despicable. The attention now shifts to Dade Phelan and state law enforcement. Tinderholt’s corrupt actions should be investigated and when confirmed, severely punished.”

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