On Friday we wrote about an AG ruling that was inaccurately and misleadingly reported by Austin American Statesman writer Kate Alexander. Her post has now been updated with relevant information it lacked in its original version but her conclusion is still off.
At issue was Alexander’s spin of a Greg Abbott ruling which stated lobbyists are not allowed to serve on the State Board of Education when they have clients who might benefit from their actions. Despite his denials this accurately describes current board member Thomas Ratliff.
Alexander’s updated post includes information about Ratliff’s conduct while a board member. In 2011 the Texas legislature changed spending laws to allow funds traditionally used for textbooks to go towards technology. That could put Microsoft on the path to a payday. Ratliff testified before the legislature in favor of the measure as a board member.
Additionally, Microsoft stock is held by the Permanent School Fund, which the board oversees.
Though these conflicts exist there are two things keeping Ratliff from being removed from office. First there is no mechanism for his removal and the AG is not allowed to rule on the facts of Ratliff’s activities. Neither of these turn the AG opinion into a permission slip to serve.
Other news outlets including the Fort Worth Star Telegram covered Ratliff’s apparent conflict of interest and did not twist the AG opinion. The Austin American Statesman conclusion and Ratliff’s alike interpret the AG opinion as a good thing for the man who is trying to serve two masters. Texans know that’s impossible.