Thomas Ratliff – Ineligible to Serve

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.


Texas Education Code EDUCATION CODE




(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.


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

Opinion No.  GA-0876

Go to:

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)

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]


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:

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