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Thomas Ratliff – Ineligible to Serve

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By Donna Garner

Below is the section that says Thomas Ratliff is ineligible to be on the SBOE because he is a registered lobbyist who works for Microsoft.

THOMAS RATLIFF INELIGIBLE TO SERVE:

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/?link=ED

Texas Education Code EDUCATION CODE

TITLE 2. PUBLIC EDUCATION

SUBTITLE B. STATE AND REGIONAL ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNANCE

CHAPTER 7. STATE ORGANIZATION

(Page 38) — Sec. 7.103.  ELIGIBILITY FOR MEMBERSHIP.

(c)  A person who is required to register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305, Government Code, by virtue of the person’s activities for compensation in or on behalf of a profession, business, or association related to the operation of the board, may not serve as a member of the board or act as the general counsel to the board.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.

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Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s original ruling on the matter on 8.12.11:

Opinion No.  GA-0876

Go to: http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/opinions/50abbott/op/2011/htm/ga-0876.htm

Re: Construction of section 7.103(c), Education Code, regarding the eligibility of a registered lobbyist for membership on the State Board of Education (RQ-0948-GA)

https://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinions/opinions/50abbott/rq/2011/pdf/rq0948ga.pdf

Summary: Subsection 7.103(c), Texas Education Code, precludes certain registered lobbyists from serving on the State Board of Education (“Board”). A person who has been retained to communicate directly with the legislative or executive branch to influence legislation or administrative action in or on behalf of a profession, business, or association on a matter that pertains to or is associated or connected with any of the statutorily enumerated powers or duties of the Board is not eligible to serve on the Board. Thus, a registered lobbyist who has been paid to lobby the legislative or executive branch on a matter relating to Board business is ineligible to serve on the Board. The question of whether any person engaged in lobbying activity is ineligible under subsection 7.103(c) is a fact question that is inappropriate to an attorney general opinion.

Absent a mechanism to cure a violation in subsection 7.103(c), we cannot advise that a member of the Board may cure his or her ineligibility under the subsection.

[As soon as the Attorney General issued this ruling, I had two well-known lawyers who immediately called me and explained that the “cure” statement meant that there was nothing Ratliff can do to fix his situation. He is what he is – a registered lobbyist who lobbies the legislature and also whose client(s) do business with the SBOE (e.g., Microsoft).

When Ratliff testified glowingly before the Senate Education Committee on 3.29.11 about SB 6 – HB 6, which he said he just “loves,” he did not bother to mention the fact that he had been a registered lobbyist for Microsoft for 12 years.  He introduced himself as a member of the Texas State Board of Education which gave the legislators the distinct impression that he was representing the SBOE at the hearing which he certainly was not.  SB 6/HB 6 contained language that transformed the payout of the Permanent School Fund, and Microsoft has derived millions of dollars from these changes. – Donna Garner]

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In my research, I then found the section in the Texas Government Code (Section 665.001, Impeachment Proceeding, and Section 665.004) that tells how a person who is a member of  a “state institution” can be impeached:http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/GV/htm/GV.665.htm

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