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Texas: Justice Hecht defends against campaign-finance charge

AP reports: Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht, appearing before the Texas Ethics Commission, defended himself Thursday against allegations he broke campaign finance laws by accepting discounted legal fees to fight an abuse of office complaint. ...

Hecht was sanctioned in 2006 by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, which alleged that he had abused his office by promoting Harriet Miers for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Legal canons bar Texas judges from endorsing candidates for public office, but Hecht was able to get the sanction reversed on appeal by arguing that Miers was not running for elective office.

In the process, Hecht racked up about $440,000 in legal fees. Hecht later told supporters that he had gotten a substantial discount on the fees from attorney Chip Babcock and his firm, Jackson Walker. But a liberal watchdog group, Texas Watch, said Hecht never properly reported a discount totaling about $100,000.

The group filed a sworn complaint, saying the failure to report the cut-rate fees as a campaign gift constitutes a violation of state campaign finance laws. Texas Watch now wants the commission to fine the Republican judge up to $300,000. -- Supreme Court justice defends self at hearing | AP Texas News | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

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