Dark Money

Texas Senator Joan Huffman’s Non-Disclosure and Perjury Swept Away Like AG Paxton’s Mistress

When Texas Senator Joan Huffman knowingly and willfully violated Texas Ethics by failing to disclose her financial interests, that’s perjury.

What we know about

 Sen. Joan Huffman

The State of Texas Politics and the Constant Coverups of Egregious and Criminal Conduct

 LIT: SEP 17, 2023


Under Chapter 572 of the Texas Government Code, every state official must file an annual, verified financial statement with the Texas Ethics Commission. The statute specifies the kinds of financial activities that must be included in this statement.

Texas State Senator Joan Huffman appears to have violated the disclosure requirements of Chapter 572 of the Government Code, specifically § 572.023.

That statutory provision requires state senators, among other elected officials, to provide in their annual financial statements an account of the financial activities of themselves, their spouses, and their dependent children.

Section 572.023(b)(12) mandates that those disclosures include, inter alia, “any corporation, firm, partnership, limited liability venture or other business association” in which the official or his or her spouse has an interest.

The 2014 Personal Financial Statement (Form PFS) filed by Senator Huffman on January 14, 2014, and attested to under penalty of perjury, fails to include significant business interests of herself and her husband, Keith Lawyer, in violation of Chapter 572.


In January 2014, Senator Huffman filed with the Texas Ethics Commission a Personal Financial Statement, Form PFS. Senator Huffman affirmed, under penalty of perjury, that the financial statement she was submitting for the calendar year ending December 31, 2013, “was true and correct and includes all information required to be reported by me under chapter 572 of the Government Code.”

This statement was false.

Part 7B of the form requires the reporting of interests in business entities of both the filer and his or her spouse.

Senator Huffman and Donald Lawyer were married on February 5, 1997, according to Public Data.

Senator Huffman reported interests of herself and her spouse as including only an interest in LL Ranch Partners, Ltd, which she described as a family limited partnership. Records of the Secretary of State, however, show Senator Huffman’s husband, Keith Lawyer, has financial interests in over 35 separate businesses that filed with the State of Texas in

Victoria Club Venture
Boosier City Club Venture
Lafayette Club Venture, LTD
Greeley Club Venture, LTD
Denison Club Venture, LTD
***Above listed business created after February 5, 1997.

As the Texas Ethics Commission stated In the Matter of Linda Harper-Brown, Respondent, SC-31007211:

“A filer is required to report information about community property because the filer has ownership interest in the property. The actual control issue arises in the context in which the filer has no ownership interest.”

This is consistent with Texas Government Code Section 572.023(b)(6), which requires “identification by description of all beneficial interests in real property and business entities held or acquired…”, and Section 572.023(b)(12). See Texas Government Code Section 572.023(b)(6) and Section 572.023(b)(12).

All of the businesses created after February 5, 1997 would qualify as community property, and therefore Huffman would have a reportable ownership interest regardless of the issue of ‘actual control.’ (See Texas Family Code Section 3.002: Community property consists of property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during the marriage.)

Further, this was not a one-time omission. Senator Huffman’s Personal Financial Statement for 2011 and 2012, for example, include as the sole business interest of her and her spouse LL Ranch Partners Ltd, also omitting the additional considerable business interests of her husband Keith Lawyer.

On information and belief, Senator Huffman has underreported the financial business interests of herself and her spouse for years, all in violation of Chapter 572 of the Government Code.


 Documents filed with this complaint include Senator Huffman’s Personal Financial Statements for the years 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Documents relevant to this complaint include records of the Secretary of State of businesses owned in whole or in part by Keith Lawyer. They also include all Personal Financial Statements Senator Huffman has filed with the Texas Ethics Commission.

Only five of those businesses were created prior to Huffman and Lawyer’s marriage on February 5, 1997. Those omitted businesses include the following:

Name / Filing No.

B.C. Squared, Inc.
M. Till, Inc.
West Houston Night Life, Inc.
Western Entertainment Management, Inc.
Sunstorm, Inc.
***Above businesses created prior to February 5, 1997
Greenstreet, Inc.
McCann Road Real Estate Ventures, Inc.
Temple Lawyer, L.P. Inc.
Longview Club Enterprise, Inc.
Lawyer Advertising Agency, Inc.
Louisiana Club Management, Inc.
Waco Tex Club Management, Inc.
Longview Tex N.P. Inc.
Lafayette Club Management, Inc.
Keith L.P. Club Management, Inc.
Lafayette Lawyer Enterprise, Inc.
Lawyer Airport Services, Inc.
Lawyer Harker Heights, Inc.
Lawyer Colosprings, Inc.
Lawyer Greeley, Inc.
Lawyer Denison, Inc.
Keith L.P. Investments, LLC
Chattanooga Partners, Inc.
Network Investors LP, Inc.
Network Investors GP, Inc.
Participating Partners, LLC
KL Pub Investments, LLC
Kentucky Investments, LLC
ASKL Investments, LLC
WEM Aviation, LLC
Tier 1 Operations, LLC
DKL Family GP, LLC
DKL Dallas Investment Cedar Springs, LLC
Lawyer Mineral Investments, LLC
LL Ranch Management
K K & G Investments, LLC
Cal-Law Partners, LLC
Lukes Ice House Beaumont
Longview Enterprise, LTD

In the Lone Star State, a growing sense of frustration and disillusionment has taken root among its residents. For far too long, Texans have witnessed a seemingly unending cycle of political scandals and corruption scandals, with promises of change at the ballot box falling disappointingly short. The Lone Star State deserves better, and the time for action is now.

Enter Laws In Texas (“LIT”) a passionate and determined investigative legal blog which has emerged from the heart of Texas and as a result of legal, judicial and political corruption. Its mission is clear: to awaken the people of Texas to the urgent need for change and accountability within their government. LIT understands that change cannot wait for the next election cycle; it must happen immediately, driven by the voices and demands of the people.

In this article, we turn our spotlight onto a prominent figure in Texas politics, Senator Joan Huffman, and delve into the troubling non-disclosure and perjury in mandated financial disclosures.  Senator Huffman’s actions have far-reaching consequences for the community she represents and the state as a whole. It is crucial that we examine these issues closely, for they serve as a stark reminder of the urgency for reform and a call to action for all Texans to stand up and demand a government that truly serves its people.

Join us as we explore the intricate web of financial deception and perjury that have cast a shadow over Senator Joan Huffman. In doing so, we shed light on the broader issues plaguing Texas politics, emphasizing the pressing need for change and accountability in the halls of power. The time has come for Texans to ignite a brighter future for their state, one that is free from corruption and scandal, and where the voices of the people take precedence over all else.

Governor Greg Abbott has reappointed Steven P. “Steve” Mach to the Public Safety Commission for a term set to expire on January 1, 2028. The Commission oversees the Texas Department of Public Safety, which enforces laws protecting public safety and provides for the prevention and detection of crime.

Steven P. “Steve” Mach of Houston is vice president and chief financial officer of Mach Industrial Group, LP and has served as the chairman of the Public Safety Commission (PSC) since March 2017.

As PSC chairman, he also serves as a member of the Texas Racing Commission.

He is past chairman of the Houston Symphony Board of Trustees and former chairman of the Houston Symphony Endowment.

He serves as secretary of the Trinity University Board of Trustees, vice chairman of the Kinkaid School Board of Trustees, a member of the executive committee of the Sam Houston Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and former chairman of the board of Family Services of Greater Houston, Inc.

He is an Eagle Scout and a life member of the Houston Police Foundation, 100 Club of Houston, and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

Mach received a Bachelor of Arts from Trinity University.

This appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Directors

Harry Emil Mach, of Houston, Texas passed away on Sunday, the 20th of November 2022. He was 82 years of age. Born on the 17th of May 1940, in Houston, Harry grew up and lived his entire life in the city he loved. He attended Queen of Peace Catholic School, St. Thomas High School, and the University of Houston.

In May of 1962, Harry met Cora Sue Dominy, the love of his life, and in February of 1964 they were married at The Church of the Annunciation. Within a few years they were blessed with arrival of their sons.

Harry began to display the attributes of a successful leader, when in 1974, his father, at the age of 58 years, died suddenly. Harry, at that time had a young family, however, he immediately accepted the responsibility of seeing to his mother and his younger siblings. He also took on the leadership of the family business which had grown, and become Mach Corporation. As Winston Churchill said, “The price of greatness Is responsibility”, and Harry accepted this as he pursued a consequential life of purpose. In the years that followed his father’s passing, Harry managed to keep everything going and growing. As busy as he was, he made time to coach Little League, and serve as an Assistant Scoutmaster. Part of his success can be measured by the fact that both sons became Eagle Scouts, an accomplishment for which he was very proud.

By 1992, the company had tripled in size, thus outgrowing the original plant on the south loop in Houston. The decision was made to move to the current location on the north loop, and to change the name to Mach Industrial Group. The third-generation business has grown under the leadership of Harry, his brother, Tom, and Harry’s sons. In 1999 the Houston Business Journal named the company as one of the “Top 25 Family-Owned Businesses”. The company will be celebrating its 70th Anniversary in 2023, and once again moving to a much larger facility on the northwest side of Harris County. Harry retired from the company just earlier this year.

Once their sons were in college, Harry and Cora Sue shifted their focus to become more involved in their beloved community. In the years that followed, Harry served on the boards of Houston Grand Opera, Baylor Research Advocates for Student Scientists at Baylor College of Medicine (BRASS), the St. Thomas High School Foundation, the University of St. Thomas, the Czech Cultural Center, and Steering Committee for Men of Distinction of Greater Houston. He was a member of Greater Houston Sports Club and River Oaks Country Club. Harry and Cora Sue have been very active in their support of the Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston, and in 1997, they were invested in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. Additionally, they were very involved with the Houston Symphony, the Alley Theatre, the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine, the Baylor Partnership, Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, Trinity University, River Oaks Baptist School, The Kinkaid School, Episcopal High School, and The Texas Children’s Cancer Center. Harry has been a member of the “C” Club of Houston for many years, and was proud to serve as its president. Harry was honored to be recognized as one of the Men of Distinction in 2015.

An avid and accomplished clay shooter, Harry was a member of the National Skeet Shooting Association, a past president of the Texas Skeet Shooters Association, and a 2007 inductee into its Hall of Fame.

Harry had a number of other business pursuits, but Greater Houston Sports Club was especially dear to him. His good friend and business partner Cliff Moller, says that: “Greater Houston Sports Club became a middle-aged passion for Harry. His efforts resulted in being the reason why that facility, that was on the verge of failure, was able to rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes into what it is now, which is considered by many, one of the best, arguably the best, clay center facilities in the country. Certainly, in the end, I think we were both prouder of the success than we both were of our day jobs. It’s a wonderful thing to feel such passion at this stage in life. Our attitude was always, ‘Second star to the right, straight on until morning’.”

Butch and Steve married two wonderful women, Carmen and Joella. Harry has been heard many times over the years referring to them as “the daughters we never had.” Thanks to them, Harry had the most cherished title in his history, that of “Poppy” to his grandchildren who he referred to as “the Mach 5”.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Lucille Merta Mach and Harry Emil Mach, Sr.

Harry is survived by his wife of fifty-eight years, Cora Sue Dominy Mach; his sons, Harry Emil “Butch” Mach III and his wife Carmen and Steven P. Mach and his wife Joella; his wonderful grandchildren, Priscilla, Bennett, Isabella, Evelyn, and Lillian. He is also survived by his sister, Paulette Marie Mach Palamountain and her husband Bill; his brothers, Thomas John Mach and his wife Kathleen and Richard Joseph Mach and his wife Debbie, and many nieces and nephews.

The Mach family would like to express our sincere gratitude to the doctors, nurses and staff at Baylor St. Luke’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center for their care of Harry in the recent weeks before he was able to return to his home. They also want to reaffirm to the dedicated employees of Mach Industrial Group and Greater Houston Sports Club that Harry deeply appreciated working with all of you to make these endeavors better, and that he loved being there with you. He wants you to carry on, and he will be there watching, proudly supporting and celebrating your efforts.

Please continue to keep Harry, Cora Sue and all the Mach Family in your prayers.

Friends are cordially invited to a visitation with the family from six o’clock until eight o’clock in the evening on Tuesday, the 29th of November, in the library and grand foyer of Geo. H. Lewis and Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston, where recitation of the Holy Rosary lead by Sister Lauren Beck, C.V.I., is to commence at half past five o’clock in the Jasek Chapel.

A Mass of Christian Burial is to be offered at two o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, the 30th of November, at The Church of The Annunciation, 1618 Texas Avenue in Houston, where the Rev. Paul Felix, Pastor, is to serve as celebrant.

Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family and share remembrances of Harry during a reception at a venue to be announced during the service.

We are grateful and proud to have serving as Harry’s casket bearers during the services are Scott F. Basinger, Anthony Gracely, Cliff Moller, Frank Nadolney, C. Kent Osborne, M.D., Christopher C. Saunders, David W. Waddell and David Wuthrich.

Serving as Honorary casket bearers are Tony Brelsford, Jeffrey B. Early, Les Eckert, Victor J. Longo, Keith Mosing, and Fiti Partsch.

The family will gather for a private interment at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.

In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in his name be directed to Baylor Research Advocates for Student Scientists Endowed Fund at Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030; The Trap & Skeet Program Endowed Fund at Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212; The Houston Symphony Endowment, 615 Louisiana, Houston, Texas 77002; or The Alley Theatre Endowment, 615 Texas Avenue, Houston, Texas, 77002.

$1,000 Donation by Steven Mach, Jun 30, 2023

David C Elmer lives at 3310 Amherst Strt, Houston, TX 77005-3334

Living in 77005 West University Place, TX is a unique experience. Located in the heart of Houston, this area is known for its diverse neighborhoods and bustling city life.

From amazing restaurants and cafes to parks, trails and bike paths, there are plenty of ways to explore and enjoy the community.

Despite being in a bustling city, 77005 still manages to maintain a laid-back vibe that makes it an ideal place for people who want to stay connected to both the outdoors and urban life.

Residents also enjoy access to excellent public schools as well as plenty of shopping options that make living here a great option for families of all sizes.

Overall, living in 77005 West University Place is an incredible experience that provides something for everyone! Large city complex – Southeast Texas, 50 miles inland from the Gulf Coast.

What Has Joan Huffman Been Hiding?

Joan Huffman really, really didn’t want anyone to know much about the business and financial dealings engaged in by herself and her husband, Keith Lawyer.
JUL 13, 2015 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 17, 2023

Joan Huffman really, really didn’t want anyone to know much about the business and financial dealings engaged in by herself and her husband, Keith Lawyer.

Since her first election to the state Senate, Huffman has refused to disclose the value and income derived from dozens of businesses in which she and Lawyer hold an interest.

Earlier this month, after failing to enact a loophole that would have allowed her to continue avoiding disclosure, and after a Houston citizen filed a formal ethics complaint against her – Huffman was finally forced to reveal her and her husband’s extensive business holdings.

Why has Joan Huffman been so desperate to avoid complying with state ethics laws? Why did it take an ethics complaint and legislative embarrassment for her to disclose financial information just like every other state elected official?

Pretty hard to hide an airplane





Did Huffman not want anyone to know about the airplane?

Among the businesses Huffman was hiding from Texans was WEM Aviation out of Houston. Though we don’t know a lot about the company, we do know that WEM Aviation owns an 11 passenger private plane. However, until a complaint was filed against Huffman and she was forced to disclose, ownership of the plane was hidden.

Why was Huffman hiding ownership of a private plane? It is a clear indication of significant wealth. Perhaps she’s worried that the plane shows that she’s out of touch with Texans who worry about tuition costs, utility bills, and insurance payments. Whatever the case, Huffman’s refusal to fully comply with state ethics laws helped shield a lot of money, a private airplane, and perhaps more that will be uncovered soon.

Big $$ in bars & booze










Is Huffman embarrassed about the large investments in various bars and drinking establishments?

Huffman and her husband own stakes in a lot of bars in Texas and around the country. Why hide ownership investment in bars and drinking establishments? Is Huffman worried about moral blow-back from fundamentalist Republicans? Perhaps Huffman didn’t want Texans to learn about some of the lawsuits filed against the bars her companies have owned. Maybe she didn’t want to reveal the conflict of interest between state and regulated businesses and her work as a Member of the Texas State Senate.

We’ll find out soon enough – more research ahead.

It’s our guess, though, that Huffman has not been hiding her income simply to save face.

Huffman Stands by Push for “Spousal Loophole”

State Sen. Joan Huffman is facing criticism after authoring a measure allowing elected officials and bureaucrats to disclose less information about their spouses’ property and financial activity. She says the change was needed to clarify an “unclear” Texas Ethics Commission rule.

MAY 31, 2015 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 17, 2023
SEP 17, 2023

Above is the date LIT Last updated this article.

It’s no secret that Texas legislators make poverty wages — $7,200 a year to be exact — so they generally must have some other source of income to make ends meet.

A look at Sen. Joan Huffman’s 2014 ethics disclosures, however, doesn’t shed much light on that: All she lists for “occupational income” is her Senate salary. Combined with some stock dividends, the grand total of disclosed income comes to no more than about $12,000 a year

— even though the Houston Republican reported living in a River Oaks home appraised at $3.2 million.

One explanation for the gap might stem from something that’s not included in her ethics reports: any mention of the income or vast business holdings of her husband, nightclub owner and manager Keith Lawyer, who is tied to dozens of businesses with current or past filings at the office of the Texas secretary of state.

Lawyer briefly became an issue in the Houston Republican’s 2008 Senate race, amid reports that Huffman received heavy support from interests tied to liquor, gambling and nightclubs.

Huffman says she has fully complied with state disclosure laws. And she lists interests in one business entity, a ranch partnership she owns with her husband, on her 2014 report.

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But the Houston senator’s last-minute advocacy of controversial amendments widening the so-called spousal loophole — quietly slipped onto bills that were supposed to increase transparency — will make it even harder for voters to untangle the finances of their elected representatives in Austin.

Meanwhile, her role in pushing for the changes has sparked criticism from government watchdogs and her former Democratic opponent.

“This amendment does not suggest that she is interested in allowing constituents, Texans, or other legislators who are voting on bills she may bring or sponsor or champion, [to] know anything about areas in which she may have a conflict of interest,” said Rita Lucido, a Houston lawyer and Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against Huffman last year.

Huffman said in an interview on Saturday night that she did not push the change in the law to shield her husband’s business interests from public view. And she said she has always disclosed what state ethics laws says she must.

“I think I report exactly what I’m required to report under the law, and I will continue to do so and follow the law utterly to its exact requirement,” she said.

Asked if she could afford to live on the limited income she reports on her ethics reports, Huffman said, “I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

The Huffman amendments — one version is already awaiting action from Gov. Greg Abbott — would roll back an ethics rule designed to ensure maximum disclosure of certain property held by the spouse of any elected official or high-ranking bureaucrat required to file personal financial statements at the Texas Ethics Commission.

Sen. Van Taylor, R-Plano, author of the sweeping ethics bill that fell apart in the final days of the session, tacked the provision onto a bill on May 26 that was otherwise designed to increase transparency and curb conflicts of interest on state boards and commissions. Taylor authored the amendment after Huffman requested it as minor clarification of existing law.

That measure, House Bill 3736, is likely to be approved Sunday.

Even if that measure fails, though, an identical version of Huffman’s amendment is already on Abbott’s desk. The amendment was tucked into House Bill 3511 in Huffman’s State Affairs Committee on May 21, passed by the Senate on the fast track “local and uncontested” calendar Wednesday and then approved unanimously by the House on Friday.

According to talking points, obtained by The Texas Tribune, that were prepared to advocate for the legislation, the amendment was tacked onto the bills in part to protect “nonrelevant information from unnecessary disclosure.”

Huffman said the change was needed to clarify an “unclear” rule adopted by the Ethics Commission last year.

“The law is simply codified to reflect what the law has been for years until the Ethics Commission by rule changed it on their own vote,” Huffman said.

The rule was created in the wake of a scandal involving a lawmaker who failed to disclose cars that were registered in the name of a transportation contractor who stood to gain from legislation the lawmaker sponsored. The stated reason for not disclosing the cars: They were given to her husband as compensation for accounting work he did.

After that controversy, the Ethics Commission sought to define a nebulous area of the law — still on the books unless and until Abbott signs the Huffman amendment into law — that had already been panned by ethics watchdogs as too weak. It says that the financial activity of a spouse must be revealed only if the elected official or bureaucrat has “actual control” over it.

For years, state officials have interpreted that vague rule on their own, with some leaning toward robust disclosure and others revealing the bare minimum — if anything — about spouses. The new ethics rule interpreted “actual control” as ownership in any community property, whether partitioned or not, and any financial activity he or she has “any degree of legal or factual control over.”

Huffman’s amendment doesn’t just repeal that rule. It removes the word “spouse” from the part of the law saying what type of financial activity must be included on a personal financial statement. In its place it says politicians and bureaucrats have to reveal community property that is considered separate and under their exclusive control, or when they exert “both factual and legal” control over the property.

Government watchdogs say the change, if ultimately adopted, would open up a far bigger loophole than current law, and moves away from Abbott’s call to “dedicate this session to ethics reform.” It’s unclear where Abbott comes down on the specifics of the spousal loophole.

“Abbott says transparency is a priority. Huffman’s amendment closes the door on transparency,” said Craig McDonald, director of the liberal watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. “It allows politicians to hide their assets and business deals behind their spouses. Abbott’s team is moving backwards on ethics reform, not forward.”

Joan Huffman Discloses Husband’s Financial Holdings

Houston state Sen. Joan Huffman, who tried to shield the spouses of elected officials from ethics disclosure rules, has now revealed on her personal financial statement a slew of business interests held by her husband.

JUN 29, 2015 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 17, 2023

State Sen. Joan Huffman, who tried to shield the spouses of elected officials from ethics disclosure rules, has now revealed a slew of business interests held by her husband.

The Houston Republican’s new personal financial statement, received by the Texas Ethics Commission last week, expanded to 27 pages for calendar year 2014, up from 12 the year before.

The statement lists stock holdings in 48 business entities, up from just one in 2013, according to commission records.

A big chunk of the new business interests in her latest report pertains to bars and nightclubs owned or held by her husband, Keith Lawyer.

But Huffman and her husband also reveal new oil and gas holdings, real estate interests and stock in prominent or publicly traded corporations such as Apple Inc., Kinder Morgan Inc. and Energy Transfer Equity LP, the pipeline company chaired by Texas billionaire and mega-donor Kelcy Warren.

Huffman listed no gifts for 2013. In 2014, she reports three: transportation, food and lodging in Taiwan from the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston, for her husband and dependent child; a family trip to Colorado from Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp and his wife, Charlotte; and a family trip to Colorado from Morgan Land & Cattle Partners LTD of Dolores, Colorado.

Calls to Huffman’s Capitol and district offices, along with an email message sent to Huffman’s public address, were not immediately returned Monday afternoon.

Huffman authored the controversial “spousal loophole” amendments that landed in two separate bills at the end of the recently concluded session. It would have allowed elected officials and major state bureaucrats to keep secret much or all of the financial activities and holdings of their spouses.

The sponsor of the ethics bills that included the provision wound up asking Gov. Greg Abbott to veto the legislation. And that’s what he did on June 20, saying in his veto proclamation that he would not take part in “weakening our ethics laws” and vowing to try again for meaningful reforms in the next regular session in 2017.

Days after the session ended, a member of the State Democratic Executive Committee filed a sworn ethics complaint against Huffman, alleging the senator had not adhered to ethics rules that require certain spousal assets to be revealed on ethics disclosures.

Huffman has said she always follows ethics laws to the letter and defended her support of the spousal exemption amendment. She said she pushed the amendment to rein in an ethics commission rule that went beyond what the law requires.

But Democratic strategist Matt Angle said the filing demonstrates that Huffman’s previous reports violated disclosure laws.

“Clearly, Joan Huffman was illegally hiding assets held by her husband. She tried to enact a loophole to continue the deception,” Angle said.

“With the Huffman loophole now closed, she is being forced to acknowledge her violations. Joan Huffman has forfeited any benefit of doubt so hopefully a thorough (Texas Ethics Commission) investigation will take place and could well expose other violations.”

Lawsuit: Texas senator used influence to stop investigation

JUN 8, 2018 | REPUBLISHED BY LIT: SEP 17, 2023

A former sergeant with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has sued the agency, arguing that he was improperly fired last year after reporting that state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, used her influence to halt investigations into a bar she and her husband partly owned.

However, Bill Miller — a consultant representing Huffman’s husband, Keith Lawyer — said Friday that Lawyer sold his interest in the bar in 2015, so there would have been no reason to interfere in an investigation that took place in 2017.

“He had a deferred payment, and that took him out of everything” related to the bar, Miller said.

The whistleblower lawsuit, filed Tuesday in state District Court in Travis County, claims Marcus Stokke was fired as the enforcement sergeant for 24 Northeast Texas counties after reporting Huffman’s “public corruption and obstruction of justice” to the FBI, federal prosecutors and TABC investigators.

The lawsuit also accused agency officials of giving in to pressure from Huffman by ordering Stokke to end investigations into alleged violations at Graham Central Station, a Longview bar that the petition said was at least partly owned by Huffman and Lawyer.

“(Stokke) was actually told to dismiss, and delete from the commission’s records … digital or paper documentation of the suspected violations” — including a report that alcohol was served to a customer who sexually assaulted a female customer in or near the bar, and the failure to notify regulators about 11 breaches of the peace, which typically refers to fights, at Graham Central Station, the lawsuit said.

Huffman denied the accusations.

Jun 8, 2018

State Sen. Joan Huffman denies that she tried to influence an investigation into a bar in which she had a financial interest. A fired agent said he was told a state senator tried to kill the probe, but he doesn’t have evidence that Huffman “told anybody to falsify records or delete records.”

A lawsuit filed in state district court Monday alleges that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission improperly fired one of its sergeants after he told federal law enforcement that state Sen. Joan Huffman had blocked an investigation into a Longview bar she and her husband partially owned.

The whistleblower lawsuit against the TABC — where the former sergeant, Marcus Stokke, worked for 16 years — says that last year Stokke told the FBI, a federal prosecutor and the agency’s internal affairs department that Huffman interfered in an investigation into Graham Central Station.

The bar had drawn scrutiny for failing to report multiple “breaches of the peace” that took place on or near its premises, including a sexual assault, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Austin.

In a statement to the Tribune, Huffman, R-Houston, wrote, “These claims are false and have no merit, and are not deserving of any further comment.” Huffman, who chairs the Senate State Affairs Committee, did not respond to questions about the extent of her ownership stake in Graham Central Station, which no longer appears to be open.

Bill Miller, a consultant representing Huffman’s husband, Keith Lawyer, said Lawyer sold his interest in the bar in 2015, two years before the lawsuit claims the interference took place. TABC spokesman Chris Porter said the agency is unable to comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, agency officials told Stokke to discontinue an investigation into Graham Central Station and erase digital and print records documenting the bar’s alleged wrongdoing.

Stokke, who the lawsuit says oversaw 24 counties in northeast Texas for the liquor agency, contacted law enforcement authorities in May 2017 and lost his job the following October. Stokke provided the Tribune with a copy of his termination letter which outlines a number of reasons for his dismissal, including insubordination and unethical conduct. The lawsuit says those claims are false.

“It was total retaliation,” Stokke said in an interview. He is seeking at least $200,000 in damages as well as reinstatement to his old job at the TABC.

Asked how he knew Huffman had interfered in the investigation, Stokke said he does “not have any evidence that she actually, you know, conspired or told anybody to falsify records or delete records or anything like that.”

But, he said, the reason the agency officials gave when they instructed him to end the investigation was, “this is really political and there’s a state senator involved.”

On Friday afternoon, Rita Lucido, a Democrat running to replace Huffman in November, released a statement calling on the Texas Rangers to open an investigation into Huffman’s conduct.

“In a page taken straight from the Ken Paxton-Trump Administration playbook, Joan Huffman has demonstrated a clear contempt for transparency, ethical guidelines, and the public interest by engaging in shockingly corrupt practices to protect her and her husband’s business interests,” Lucido wrote.

Last year, a series of high-level officials left the TABC after the Tribune reported that agency employees had used taxpayer funds to take extravagant trips to out-of-state resorts where they rubbed shoulders with industry groups. A new executive director, Adrian Bentley Nettles, took over the embattled agency in July 2017.

Huffman has served in the Texas Senate since 2008.

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Texas Senator Joan Huffman’s Non-Disclosure and Perjury Swept Away Like AG Paxton’s Mistress
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