Complaint Charges Wendy Davis Failed to Disclose Income, Lobbying Ties

Matt Vespa
By Matt Vespa | January 31, 2014 | 5:30 PM EST

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis couldn't have had a worse month.  Now, she's facing accusations that she withheld ties to lobbyists and didn't declare portions of her income, as required by state law.

First, Davis made inaccurate claims about her life story, which serves as the basis for her fundraising campaign.  When those half-truths were reported by the media, she lashed out at her Republican opponent, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, and said he didn't know stories of struggle in the Lone Star state. In case you were wondering, Abbott is paraplegic - and there's no direct evidence of the Abbott campaign coordinating with the media in exposing her story as half-true.

Now, the Texas bureau of is reporting that WatchdogWire - Texas, a citizen journalism project of the Franklin Center, and its editor, Lou Ann Anderson, has filed a complaint based on Davis' own tax returns.

Jon Cassidy, who wrote the article for Watchdog on January 29, also said, "according to the complaint, Davis failed to disclose more than $25,000 in interest and dividends she earned from 2010 to 2012 on the personal financial statements she filed those years. Davis also failed to disclose that she was paid by the employer of a lobbyist - namely, the law firm of Cantey Hanger, LLP."

While Davis declared her Cantey Hanger, LLP income as "attorney --of counsel," she did not disclose it as per Part 14 of the TEC Personal Financial Statement:

"Complete this section by identifying any corporation, firm, partnership, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, professional corporation, professional association, joint venture, or other business association, other than a publicly held corporation, in which both you, your spouse, or a dependent child, and a person registered as a lobbyist under chapter 305 of the Government Code, have an interest."

Lou Ann Anderson told that:

Public officials choose to serve. Personal Financial Statements are a required and known part of the package that service brings. They at least theoretically help keep people honest. Disclosure laws exist in support of government transparency. They exist to inform the public regarding potential conflicts of interest. They are also a tool to help monitor that public interests are not usurped by self-interested officials.

Those making laws for Texans to follow should be doing so themselves. A review of Wendy Davis' financial reporting creates questions in terms of ethics requirements. Media reports have revealed a now-acknowledged prior selectivity with information sharing of Davis' personal history. If this approach extends to her past compliance in legally-required financial disclosures, those are behaviors of which the public has a right to be aware - especially with regard to someone pursuing the state's top position of governance.