Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Transparency Denied

I received via one of my sources an interesting PDF file. It is the result of TXPIA request for all billings from noted political attorney Andy Taylor to NHMCCD since the beginning of 2006. Since June, Mr. Taylor's firm billed a total of $33,590.50 for legal representation. However, every single reference as to what exactly he did for the district has been redacted. Now, if the district is paying the bill, does that not make the district, and therefore the taxpayers, the client? Doesn't the client have a right to know what it is that the attorney is doing on their behalf? There is no attorney-client privilege to protect here near as I can tell.

Additionally, from September to November of 2006, during the time of the run up to the election when a great many articles came out of the Houston Community Newspapers with glowing portrayals of the NHMCCD board and it's activities, as well as all the political mailings that violated ethics laws attempting to sway the election which was partially successful. Andy Taylor billed the district a total of $30,680.05 for "public relations" work.

What I want to know is, what exactly he did for that money. Was he the one writing those glowing press releases that became stories? Did he design the four color mail outs or the postcards that were illegal? He's a lawyer that specializes in election law, he KNOWS that they were illegal. And he was paid by taxpayer funds so if he DID do this, he is guilty of ethics violations as well. If this is proven he could very well be disbarred. I hope it was worth it Andy.


Anonymous rideuponthewind said...

Yup - it's time to file another ethics complaint to the TEC. At the very least we need to ask for a ruling from the AG's office as to whether the district has legally redacted the details of these billings. I'm not sure who is going to follow though on that. Maybe me!


February 14, 2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Ramon. muahahahahaha.

February 14, 2007 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is hard to believe, but I guess "here we go again" Where is the end to this faucet?

TSU looks like kids play compared to this mess.

February 14, 2007 2:41 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

My reply to Mr. Thornton Wood with the OAG office:

Mr Wood, I am not a lawyer, but I did ask a friend of mine that is one (his specialty is patent law however) about this, this morning. From the information I was told this morning, billing data is confidential, but not subject to attorney-client privilege. Barring any issues that would not normally be subject to a TXPIA request such as HR matters etc., it was his opinion that such redactions would require an OAG opinion to be legal, which it is my understanding such a ruling was not sought. The taxpayers are footing the bill here, therefore we are the ultimate clients, even if NHMCCD is the client of record. We have a right to know what NHMCCD is spending money on. These expenditures were made during the very time frame that the NHMCCD board and teachers union committed one of the largest ethics violations in OAG history. It is reasonable to think that Mr. Taylor was smack in the middle of these violations. Since his specialty is election law, he of all people should have known that the actions of the board were unethical and violated the law. Were he to be implicated in those actions himself, he would be subject to disciplinary action himself and would have forfeited privilege anyway as I understand the law.

Is my understanding of the situation correct or is there something here that I am unaware of?

February 14, 2007 2:48 PM  
Anonymous rideuponthewin said...

We need to hold their feet to the fire on this one! Absolutely sounds like we need a ruling from the AGs office. Good work Rorschach!

February 14, 2007 3:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somebody must be pretty slick at that college to have kept the people that run that place out of jail for so long. It looks like the board and the administration don’t like the public, the employees, and the students involved in their business. Maybe the top dogs think they have a special knowledge that gives them the justification to make decisions without outside interference. Thank you for keeping the public informed about the illegal activities going on at that place. They are not so smart to avoid prosecution when the public knows what they are doing.

February 17, 2007 5:41 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

kinda reminds you of TSU don't it?

February 17, 2007 5:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Connecting the dots... Seems like I am reading where a noted POLITICAL ATTORNEY worked "public Relations" during the three months leading up to an election, a major election, and was paid some $30,500.00.

I was not born last night and in reading more this needs to be investigated.... maybe at the AG's office or a DA's not connected to the attorney and his cohorts.

February 28, 2007 7:47 AM  

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