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Letter to Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg re: legislators misappropriating state funds

Dave Palmer
The Watchdawg
August 14, 2010
Hon. Rosemary Lehmberg
Travis County District Attorney
P.O. Box 1748
Austin, Texas 78767
Re: State legislator’s misappropriating State per diem payments
Dear Mr. Ms. Lehmberg:
I’ve spent a great deal of time investigating the conduct by which Texas legislators dispense with per diem payments received from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. This investigation included my review of over 20,000 spreadsheet entries along with 100,000 to 150,000 campaign expense entries. That investigation has led to the inescapable conclusion that a vast majority of past/present legislators have pocketed per diem payments for lodging costs they provably never incurred. As you know, the IRS and Texas considers per diem to include lodging/meal costs.
I’ve prepared 26 text box examples of legislators from the Houston/San Antonio areas that improperly pocketed per diem payments even though their campaigns paid 100% of their lodging costs during sessions in Austin. Of course this highly questionable and/or clearly illegal conduct is not limited to these areas. As they say, stay tuned!
Since a review of the 26 text box examples is an easier read online then if I sent you copies, they can be found by going to the URL listed under the article title below and/or by visiting the category “Texas Reporter” on my website at www.noethics.net.
Houston/San Antonio legislators misappropriating state funds – tax avoidance
When outside sources pays 100% of a legislator’s lodging expenses, he/she has no lawful right to pocket State reimbursements paid to defray those costs, right? To suggest otherwise would be analogous to you, Ms. Lehmberg acting as follows:
Ø    Attende July 11-14, 2010 summer conference held by National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) in Napa, California
Ø      You’re invited by NDAA as a speaker along with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Ø      Upon returning to Austin you submit lodging/meal receipts to Travis County Auditor, which it personally pays to your order within 14 days
Ø      Subsequently, you receive a check from NDAA as payment lodging/meals costs in the same amount Travis County Auditor previously paid you, which you then deposit in your personal checking account
One cannot argue that had you engaged in the aforementioned conduct that you would not be guilty of felonious fraud. In fact you may have been the victim of the infamous “perp walk” on 11th St. in Austin. Put simply Ms. Lehmberg, the monies paid to you by NDAA lawfully belonged to Travis County. Any argument to the contrary would not pass the involuntary laugh test, right Ms. Lehmberg?
The data contained in the 26 text boxes was gleaned via my review of records obtained from the State Controller and/or campaign expenditures provided online by the Texas Ethics Commission. I did not include amounts spent by campaigns for meals for candidates because it would be an even more arduous task. In addition to attempting to enlighten the taxpayers/electorate in Texas, I’m also involved in doing the same for the overburdened taxpayers of California and Ohio and other states.
It would be difficult to imagine that this conduct does not constitute de facto fraud. I suspect you agree that one cannot accept payments for costs one never incurred, right? The facts herein are but the opening salvo of the unconscionable misconduct of state legislators in pocketing state reimbursements for expenses they never incurred. The documented evidence of similar fraud I’ve uncovered appears to be unprecedented.
Please understand Ms. Lehmberg that I am not implying that Texas politicians stand alone in engaging in this type of egregious avarice. Sadly, I’ve discovered that it is a nationwide epidemic that afflicts so-called public servants of every political persuasion.
Thanks for your time and attention and I look forward to your prompt reply. And finally and mercifully, if there’s anything I can do to assist you in investigating this conduct; please do not hesitate to call upon me. Put simply, I stand at the ready to so act!
Respectfully yours,
David Palmer
The Watchdawg
Folsom, California

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