Kino's Konundrum
Tue July 21, 2009 11:05 am

The defense for Kino Flores, who was indicted by a Travis County grand jury on charges relating to the failure to report his sources of income as is required by state ethics laws, was laid out by his lead attorney, Roy Minton, in an exclusive interview with the Rio Grande Guardian:

“I can tell you that the most common problem that people like Ed Shack have with members of the legislature is to get them to fill out in total all sources of income, all property that they own,” Minton said.

“I have represented over the years, I would say, 30, 40, 50 different people that have left things off and would have somebody looking into it. I have never before had a district attorney’s office come up with an indictment based on those kinds of omissions.”

The argument amounts to:
(1) Everybody does it
(2) They do it unintentionally
(3) So why are prosectors singling out my client?

I have some sympathy for the argument generally. Politicians are busy, they’re not detail people, they hire someone to keep track of their records, they sign a report that is put in front of them.

But this is a long-established pattern of omissions over six years. The Guardian listed the annual total of income that went unreported:

2004 $152,000
2005 $125,000
2006 $115,000
2007 $135,000
2008 $185,000
2009 $135,000

Total unreported income: $847,0000

He likewise failed to report the ownership of certain real property, including 2 residences, a condo, and a fishing cabin.

It is going to be hard to get a jury to believe that these were accidental omissions, especially when one of the unreported items was money paid by Hillco to Flores’ son. That’s not the sort of thing a politician forgets.

One possible line of attack for the defense is that ethics laws are hard to understand and are designed to trip up politicians. Another is that the omissions didn’t amount to much. But a million dollars or more over eight years (including the value of the real property) can hardly pass as de minimus. I would never underestimate Minton’s abilities as a lawyer, but this looks like a tough one to fight.

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