With Texas Democrats working tirelessly to turn Texas (and Harris county, in particular) blue, it is of the utmost importance that Republican voters thoroughly vet candidates up and down the ballot so that we may put our best foot forward in November. One important race that has gone under the radar of many Republican voters thus far is the race to replace Todd Staples as Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. Five candidates have filed for the Republican nomination- Former Texas GOP Executive Director Eric Opiela, Uvalde Mayor J. Allen Carnes, Former State Representatives Tommy Merritt and Sid Miller, and Joe Cotten.
Some prominent Republicans have expressed their support for Sid Miller for Agriculture Commissioner, in large part due to his commendable work for helping pass the pro-life “sonogram bill” in 2011. Unfortunately, Miller also has a considerable amount of personal and political baggage that Democrats are sure to exploit, should he receive the nomination, that would make him poison to the Texas Republican ticket in November.
Sid Miller is a Revolving Door Lobbyist
An ongoing concern among many regarding ethics and transparency in government concerns the seemingly never ending revolving door of elected officials embarking on often lucrative lobbying careers once leaving office. The platform of the Republican Party of Texas, in a plank entitled “Lobbying Limitation”, addresses this by calling for a 5 year waiting period before an elected official or government employee could lobby for a business or a foreign government.
After his defeat for re-election to the Texas House in the 2012 Republican Primary, Sid Miller wasted no time in hanging his shingle as a lobbyist. In an interview with his local newspaper in Stephenville, conducted more than one month before he even left office, he discussed how he had already started a lobbying practice. Knowing that his work as an Austin lobbyist would be a liability during his campaign, he terminated his lobbyist registration after announcing for Agriculture Commissioner and now says that he earns his living off the land.
As a lobbyist, Miller reported lobby contracts valued at between $175,000 and $405,000. Miller’s three biggest lobby clients were:
- Impact Texas Communications, a lobby firm owned by his political consultant and business partner, Todd M. Smith.
- Snap Trends, Inc., a technology company that is a vendor for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Miller served as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Public Safety committee, which oversees the DPS, during his last term in the Texas House.
- Sun Partners Capital, which is involved in the payday lending industry.
Many Texas voters are concerned with what they perceive as influence peddling in state government. This is why Greg Abbott has made wide-ranging ethics reform a centerpiece of his campaign for Governor. Abbott’s call for ethics reform, coupled with legitimate questions that are being raised about Wendy Davis’ legal work for various public entities, gives Republicans a fantastic opportunity to show a clear difference between Republicans and Democrats on matters relating to the integrity of our government. The presence of a revolving door lobbyist like Sid Miller on the statewide Republican ticket would squander this opportunity.
Sid Miller Has a Pattern of Ethically Questionable Behavior
Several recent media reports from outlets across Texas have reported on a questionable loan reimbursement Sid Miller made to himself from his campaign account at the end of 2012. This incident stems from a $10,000 personal loan Miller made to his first legislative campaign in 2000. While it is common and entirely legal for candidates to make personal loans to their campaigns, it is rare for candidates to charge interest on such loans. In 2011, the legislature passed a law that states that candidates or officeholders may not reimburse themselves for personal loans in an amount that exceeds the amount reported as a loan. In 2012, Miller paid himself $31,384.34 to retire the $10,000 loan he made his campaign in 2000, personally pocketing $21,384.34 in “interest” as a result. I have filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission regarding this loan reimbursement, which is currently pending before the Commission.
This is not Sid Miller’s first rodeo with the Texas Ethics Commission. He has been sanctioned by the Texas Ethics Commission on three separate occasions over allegations that he violated campaign finance or disclosure laws. In 2009, Sid Miller was ordered to pay $1,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to disclose a business relationship with his political consultant (and later lobbying partner) Todd M. Smith. In 2007, Miller was ordered to pay $800 by the Commission for failing to properly disclose campaign expenditures. Also in 2007, Miller was ordered to pay $1,700 by the Commission for failing to properly disclose required information on his campaign finance reports. In addition to Miller’s multiple sanctions by the Texas Ethics Commission, his political consultant and lobbyist business partner Todd M. Smith currently owes a $1,500 fine to the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to timely file campaign finance reports.
Sid Miller’s Choice of Ted Nugent as His Campaign Treasurer and Co-Chairman Lends Credibility to the False “War On Women” Narrative
Anybody who has spent more than two minutes around a Republican campaign or Republican headquarters knows that Republican women are the heart and soul of the conservative grassroots and that their hard work and dedication to the Republican Party and conservative principles is the main reason why our candidates have been so successful for many years. Despite this, Wendy Davis and her allies in the Democratic establishment and the media are trying to advance a false narrative that the Republican Party is hostile to women.
While such attempts to promote a “War on Women” narrative are likely to be unsuccessful, in large part because of the multitude of Republican women who will do everything they can to defeat Wendy Davis and counter the lies and distortion coming from the left, we must be cognizant of such efforts and not do anything that would lend any credibility to these attacks.
Sid Miller touts the fact that Ted Nugent has agreed to serve as his campaign treasurer and campaign co-chairman. Miller’s decision to feature Nugent in such prominent roles within his campaign is ill-advised and will be used by Democrats to promote their “War on Women” narrative and attract much needed votes from suburban women, especially in marginal areas like Harris County.
A rock and roll star, Nugent has made a living off of songs such as “Wango Tango” and “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”, which glorify promiscuity, and “Stranglehold”, which glorifies violence against women. Nugent’s personal lifestyle also raises a number of questions.
In a profile of Nugent published in the Washington Post last year, Nugent not only acknowledges his lifestyle of adultery and sexual excess, but celebrates it. When asked about the number of women he had encounters with, Nugent stated “I was a young man, inundated with these stunning, stunning dream girls. They are everywhere, and my response should have been what? Will I ever apologize for having lots of girlfriends? F— you. It was great!” One of the encounters discussed in this article, as well as a VH1 “Behind the Music” documentary, involved a girl that Nugent met when she was 17 years old.
Nugent is also a serial adulterer who has fathered numerous children out of wedlock. When asked by the Washington Post about her husband’s infidelity, Nugent’s wife said “When we met he only had three kids, now there’s nine. I only had something to do with one of them. You do the math.” Nugent seems proud of having nine children by seven different women.
Nugent made headlines a few years ago regarding one of these children that he had as a result of an affair. The child’s mother sued Nugent for child support. Nugent eventually settled with the woman, agreeing to pay $3,500 in monthly child support.
Remarkably, Miller has aggressively courted Evangelical voters and has promoted himself as a “family values” candidate. One can reasonably question whether Miller is truly concerned about family values when he proudly touts Nugent’s support and has elevated him to such prominent roles within his campaign despite his poor moral character. As for the high-profile members of the Evangelical community who have endorsed Miller’s candidacy, it is the first time that I am aware of for many of them to support a candidate whose campaign treasurer or campaign co-chairman is proud of living a lifestyle and engaging in conduct they normally find abhorrent.
We Can Do Better Than Sid Miller
The voters who find Nugent’s lifestyle and antics most objectionable, such as suburban women, are the voters who are most likely to be influenced by the liberal “War on Women” narrative. While the Republican Party will almost certainly win every statewide election in 2014, we cannot take anything for granted. We also have no room for error in Harris County, where Democrats are working around the clock to take over the county. Negative publicity surrounding a flawed Republican nominee could very well result in down ballot losses for Harris County Republicans in the general election.
The race for Texas Agriculture Commissioner features several qualified candidates who would represent the Republican Party well in November. These candidates have the experience necessary to effectively serve as Agriculture Commissioner, but lack the baggage that Sid Miller has. We cannot afford to make preventable mistakes if we expect to enjoy continued success at the ballot box and there would be no greater gift to Wendy Davis and the Democrats than for the Republican Party to nominate Sid Miller for Agriculture Commissioner.