It might be an American Revolution, as the tag line for Chevy Tahoe marketing puts it, but for Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, it’s another episode of alleged excess.
Miller bought a Tahoe from campaign funds, according to a report from the Houston Chronicle for around $37,600. It was part of a $641,000 spend last year to get his campaign rolling.
Spending on vehicles is a given among the state’s elected officials. State Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, has bought three new cars with campaign funds since 2009 while his Democratic colleague from Dallas, Royce West, has spent $142,000 of his campaigns funds on vehicles since 2007, with some payments hitting $850 a month.
Miller’s tenure at the Agriculture Commission has been marked by numerous allegations of actions that — at the least — border on questionable. The appointment of the wife of a campaign consultant to a key position, the handing out of four-figure bonuses totaling $511,000 in FY 2015 to staff in possible violation of agency rules and several sustained complaints to the state ethics commission have made Miller a target.
So it’s clear that Miller, a former state representative who lost his office in a primary, isn’t fooling around in preparation for the March Republican primary, in which he has drawn an opponent.
Trey Blocker, an attorney and former Monsanto lobbyist from Austin, is contesting Miller. He came out swinging, claiming his bid is based on delivering “honesty, integrity and fiscal responsibility” back to the department of agriculture, implying that under Miller, such attributes have been lacking.
Blocker has come out with a web site, themed Can’t Trust Sid, which outlines various alleged breaches Miller has made over the years.
Miller has a strong party presence, when President Trump was looking for an agriculture secretary, Miller got a call in late 2016.
Miller finished the campaign finance reporting period ending Dec. 31 with a little over $400,000 cash on hand. Blocker had $487,000.
For now, though, Miller has a solid ride and incumbent status.
Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected]