State Representative Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) was fined by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to properly disclose credit card expenses charged to his campaign.
State law requires candidates to fully disclose political expenditures, including the occupation or employer of the contributor. One of the complaints against Miller alleged that he failed to properly disclose credit card expenditures on his July 2005, January 2006, and July 2006 semiannual campaign finance reports, an amount totaling more than $7,300.
Erath Democratic Chairman Alvis Yardley filed the complaint, accusing Miller of not properly naming a campaign donor. Miller admits the mistake and said he failed to list the donor’s occupation because he did not know who the contribution was from.
“He (the donor) was from out of my district,” Miller said. “I later tracked down his occupation and filed an amended report prior to Yardley filing his complaint. But any time an amended report is filed, a penalty is assessed.
I also corrected two errors prior to Yardley’s complaint as to the political contributions maintained. All corrections to my report were
corrected prior to any complaints being filed and I corrected my mistakes
as soon as they were discovered.”
In this case, Miller was fined $1,700 for filing three amended reports and all other complaints filed by Yardley were dismissed.
Another complaint, filed by John Cobarruvia, a political activist and blogger from Clear Lake, alleged that Miller failed to properly report political expenditures by credit card. Again, Miller called the allegation, “valid” and said he corrected it as soon as he was made aware of it.
“I had reported all purchases, and the purposes of the expenditure were listed,” Miller said. “I listed the credit card company as the payee, but I should have listed the business where the purchase was made.”
Miller was fined $800 for the error.
Miller, who has served 12 sessions in office, said he strives to file his reports timely and accurately, but admits that errors are sometimes made.
“I made some accounting errors on my reports - and I have corrected those errors,” Miller said. “I will strive in the future to keep accurate records. Most legislators typically use volunteers and family members to keep their campaign books, as do I. My sister volunteers to do my books and I can’t fire my sister. I take full responsibility for the errors and in the future will strive for accurate compliance.”
Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.