► Chicago Tribune - 03/11/08 - Legislative Aide Quits Over Phone Fakery Print E-mail

Chicago Tribune - 03/11/08 - Legislative Aide Quits Over Phone Fakery

 

AUSTIN A veteran legislative aide to a Texas state senator has resigned over allegations that he impersonated a state representative and a newspaper reporter in politically motivated schemes.
 
Todd Gallaher, who worked for state Sen. Bob Deuell, resigned Monday after acknowledging he had called an ethics watchdog and identified himself as a reporter, asking about an ethics complaint the watchdog had filed against the Republican lawmaker.
 
Gallaher already had been on leave since February, when he admitted to Deuell that he had used an e-mail address that appeared to belong to a Democratic lawmaker to send out embarrassing 20-yearold photos of a South Texas sheriff who was up for re-election.
 
Aransas County Sheriff Mark Gilliam lost his primary election race. He is not contesting the results but is asking the state to investigate whether Gallaher broke state law.
 
The state Attorney General's Office is reviewing the matter, spokesman Thomas Kelley said.
 
"It sounds like I've put the senator in a very bad position," Gallaher said. "I'm heartbroken about that."
 
The phone call to California ethics watchdog Dave Palmer happened Thursday night, Palmer said. Gallaher identified himself as "Dallas Morning News reporter Ed Franks," But Palmer said he found the questions suspicious, saying the call was "a scam from the get-go."
 
When Palmer tried to call the reporter back Friday using the number on his caller ID, he said, he was redirected to the Texas Capitol switchboard. When he called the newspaper and asked to speak with Ed Franks, he was told there was no such reporter.
Gallaher acknowledged deceiving Palmer.
 
"I think if I had told him I worked for one of the people he filed a complaint against, he may not have been as open with me," Gallaher said.
 
Deuell has apologized for Gallaher's actions.
 
"Todd made an error in judgment, and I hate it because Todd's judgment is usually very good," Deuell said. "I'm embarrassed. Todd's embarrassed."
 
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