During the past few weeks, many politically minded Americans have, understandably, been focused on the rapidly approaching showdown between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Still, I encourage Texans to take a moment to celebrate our agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller. In April, the Texas Rangers began an investigation into whether he misused taxpayer funds to take two trips earlier this year. On Tuesday, the Travis County District Attorney’s office announced that the investigation had been concluded, and that it will not result in criminal charges.
Lauren McGaughy, at the Dallas Morning News, explains that Susan H. Oswalt, the Travis County DA, did not exactly exonerate Miller. In fact, he admitted to the Rangers that he had received a “Jesus shot” on the first trip, to Oklahoma; it was already known that he competed in a rodeo on the second trip, to Mississippi, and that he won a cash prize. Further, the investigation found little evidence that he spent much time on state business on either trip, as Miller maintains that he wanted to do. Still, as Oswalt explained in her letter to the Rangers, “criminal intent would be difficult to prove in this case”; no point in bringing charges, apparently, if there’s so much reason to think the jury would believe the statewide official was merely confused.
Personally, I consider this a satisfactory outcome. Miller has, after all, reimbursed the state for both trips. And in a sense, I think the Texas taxpayers should be grateful for his restrained approach to extracurricular travel. This has been an unusually dramatic year in politics. He could probably have found time, while we were all distracted, to sneak off to Timbuktu.