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The Best and Worst Legislators 2009

THE WORST: Representative Kino Flores

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Interviewed for a TEXAS MONTHLY story about his 2008 race for reelection, he boasted, “There is no other rep like me.” Thank goodness; two would be unbearable. Flores represents the last vestiges of the patrón system, the kind of pol who would run an opponent against his own aunt if she stood between him and control of a school board. This is not a hypothetical example. She did. And he did.

No sitting member has brought more discredit upon the Legislature. He has been investigated for bribery and for accepting free travel on a private airplane in violation of state ethics rules. Clients of his consulting practice have received lucrative state contracts. (No charges have resulted from these investigations.) A Travis County grand jury probing his transactions was so frustrated by lax state ethics laws that the panel issued a report urging the Texas Ethics Commission to tighten its disclosure requirements.

Normally Flores operates below the radar, but this session he made repeated trips to the microphone to demand passage of his bill giving disabled veterans a homestead tax exemption. He interrupted a debate over cockfighting to make a parliamentary inquiry about whether cockfighting was more important than veterans and why trivial bills were being scheduled ahead of his bill, and he had an in-your-face confrontation with the chairman of the committee that schedules bills for debate—all this for a bill that had no opposition and was certain to pass. This was vintage Kino: ever the bully, ever acting as though the established rules and procedures didn’t apply to him. They never do.

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