The Center for Public Integrity released a report on Dec. 3 that grades states’ judicial-finance disclosures. Texas ranked 32nd, tied with Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina. California topped the list, and Utah landed at the bottom.
The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, reports that it developed the rankings by reviewing financial-disclosure rules for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It based the rankings on how comprehensive the requirements are for judges' disclosures about their finances and the public availability of that information. Texas, like 41 other states, scored an F.
As the Lone Star State’s strengths: “Texas asks its Supreme Court justices to disclose at least some information in each category the Center analyzed. Unlike most states, Texas judges must report investment income, transactions and the number of shares they own in an individual company’s stock. Justices must also disclose their real estate interests.”
And as for its weaknesses: “Texas’ financial disclosures are notable for a couple of key loopholes. While judges are required to disclose their family members’ financial interests, the reporting instructions advise judges to report information about their spouse and dependent children only if the filer has 'actual control over that financial activity.' That 'actual control' language has been the subject of controversy. ... If 'actual control' was not included as a caveat in the state reporting requirements, Texas’ score would have been 18 points higher, according to the Center’s calculations."
-- Miriam Rozen