State senator will support House investigation of Rep. Jim Murphy

HOUSTON – State Senator Paul Bettencourt is on board with Representative Sarah Davis' decision to investigate potential ethics violations by State Representative Jim Murphy, saying, “I think that is a great thing to have and I'm glad to hear that she is doing it."

Following a House General Investigating and Ethics Committee hearing last Thursday at the Capitol, Davis told Channel 2 Investigates, "I think it's definitely something we are going to be taking a look at."

Davis, who chairs the committee, says she wants to hear Murphy explain his contracts with the Westchase District, and the arrangement that allows him to cash taxpayer- funded checks from the governmental agency in excess of $26,000 a month, plus bonuses up to $6,000 for securing state funding, even though he is a legislator.

The reaction from Davis?

"It's seems pretty shocking."

State Senator Paul Bettencourt also is on the same page, saying, "I've never seen anything like this."

Davis is now looking into a specific area of Texas law, "Interim Charge 2 dealing specifically with conflicts of interest."

Bettencourt says he has no problem taking recommendations from Davis' committee to the next level.

"A recommendation needs to be made and if the ethics committee will make it, I'll pick it up in the Senate."

Bettencourt adds that he has concerns about Murphy's incentive bonuses for securing state funding, saying, "If somebody has a contract like this and they are going to meetings and they are going on the phone, that has to be lobbying any way that I understand it."

In addition to state lawmakers questioning whether or not Murphy is lobbying state agencies while working for one, some question his status as a consultant rather than employee.

Michael Sullivan, who spent 10 years as an investigator with the IRS working “thousands of cases” says, "I think that without question this whole things stinks.”

After closely examining Murphy's contracts as well as the way he is portrayed by the Westchase District, Sullivan said the state representative’s role is pretty black and white.

"The very fact that he lists himself on the website and there is a public perception of him, there is no question in my mind that he is an employee."