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April 03, 2005

Ray Allen Investigated for Illegal Use of Staff

By Byron LaMasters

State Rep. Ray Allen (R-Grand Prairie) is currently being investigated by Travis County prosecutors for using state-paid employees and property for personal profit. The Dallas Morning News reports:

Mindy Montford McCracken, an assistant district attorney for the public integrity unit, said her office received a complaint shortly after an August newspaper report that Mr. Allen and his staff engaged in private and campaign business in his taxpayer-funded Capitol office.

Ms. McCracken declined to say who complained. She said prosecutors are waiting for documents they need before going further.

"Based on the story, we felt there was enough to explore further," Ms. McCracken said.

Ms. McCracken said the investigation is "very much in the initial stages," and declined to say what type of charges, if any, prosecutors might pursue. The penal code contains an offense called "abuse of official capacity," which forbids the misuse of government property. Based on the value of the property, it can range from a Class C misdemeanor to a first-degree felony.

Shortly after the report appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram , Mr. Allen acknowledged that the practice of employing his state aides to work for his business and campaign – even while using private computers and phone lines – looked bad.

He has since moved his business and personal records to an office at his apartment in Austin, he said. [...]

Mr. Allen said he lobbies for the National Correctional Industries Association only in Washington. The association promotes programs that allow private companies to use inmate labor.

Mr. Allen ran Service House, his lobby practice, with his former chief of staff, Scott Gilmore. Mr. Gilmore quit working for Mr. Allen in December and has formed his own lobbying practice in Austin. [...]

Mr. Gilmore said Mr. Allen's employees were aware they could not mix public affairs with private business.

"The policy was, you don't use state computers," he said.

On one occasion, however, an aide stored a letter involving his lobbying client on her state computer. That aide also sent an e-mail on the state computer network that described a "to-do" list, mostly devoted to Service House business, the Star-Telegram story said.

Mr. Gilmore said the aide sent that e-mail in error and said it was not a common practice.

While not illegal in of itself, it's just not smart for an elected official to hire his/her government employed staffers for their personal business. The tendency towards mistakes at best, and the temptation of illegal and unethical behavior at worst is much too great. Whether the case is the former or the latter, the public official - in this case, State Rep. Ray Allen (R-Grand Praire) has betrayed the trust of the public. As is the case, Allen should resign. I hope that the Travis County prosecutors get to the bottom of this.

Posted by Byron LaMasters at April 3, 2005 10:22 PM | TrackBack


hey byron, sorry to be OT. pop over to my site and check out the zogby post. i wanna know if you've heard any rumblings regarding any of the people in the poll...

Posted by: anna at April 4, 2005 12:51 AM

Hey Byron, Mindy Montford McCracken, isn't that Brewster McCracken's wife?

Posted by: Jim D at April 4, 2005 07:02 AM

Interesting news.

Posted by: WhoMe? at April 4, 2005 08:59 AM

Jim - yes. Mindy Montford McCracken is the daughter of former state senator John Montford and wife of Austin city councilman Brewster McCracken.

Posted by: Byron L at April 4, 2005 10:35 AM

And a real rock star... Mindy is a sweet lady who is also a brilliant political operator and attorney with integrity (I know its an oxymoron, but not in her case). I hope she runs for something in the future, perhaps Ronnie Earle's seat when he retires.

Posted by: Andrew Dobbs at April 4, 2005 02:38 PM
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