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25

Advisory Opinion Summaries

March 3, 2015 – June 30, 2015

Texas Ethics Commission

These summaries have been taken directly from the TEC’s website. To see summaries from previous

years, please visit:

http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/legal/AT-eaosquery.html

.

EAO No. 526 (2015)

– A city ordered an election to determine whether the city should adopt a “Type B”

economic development sales and use tax. The city prepared three communications to inform voters of the

facts regarding the election: (1) a newsletter; (2) a poster to be displayed at city facilities and distributed

with outgoing bills; and (3) a document to be posted to a city’s networking site. The TEC had to determine

if these communications constituted political advertising, and therefore the city was prohibited from using

public funds to produce them under section 255.003. They examined the communications to determine

if any of them supported or opposed the measure up for election. The TEC found that although one of the

communications went beyond a factual description of the measure, none of them supported or opposed

the measure. Thus, for purposes of section 255.003, the communications are not political advertising

and, therefore, public funds may be used to distribute the communications unless an officer or employee

of the city authorizing such use of public funds knows that the communications contain false information.

EAO No. 527 (2015)

- A general-purpose committee may not use political contributions accepted from a

corporation for its own administration tomake a contribution to a political party for the party’s administrative

costs.

EAO No. 528 (2015)

- Title 15 does not prohibit a general-purpose committee from using a political

contribution that was legally given and accepted from a corporation, for the purpose of financing the

establishment or administration of the committee, to compensate an individual lobbyist for providing

lobbying services to a corporation. Assuming that the contributions to the committee were given for

the specific purpose of financing the committee’s administrative expenses, and that the funds were

not provided to the committee for the purpose of compensating a lobbyist, the committee would not be

required to register solely by using the contributions to compensate the lobbyist.

Judicial Section of the State Bar of Texas Committee on Judicial Ethics

None for this time period.

State Commission on Judicial Conduct – Public Statements

None for this time period.

American Bar Association’s Ethics Opinion

Formal Opinion 470: Judicial Encouragement of Pro Bono Services (May 2015)

- A state supreme court

judge may sign a letter printed on the judge’s stationery that is duplicated and mailed by the unified

state bar association directed to all lawyers licensed in the state encouraging those lawyers to meet their

professional responsibility under Rule 6.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct and provide pro

bono legal services to persons in need and to contact the bar association for information about volunteer

opportunities.