Texas Republican guilty of stealing taxpayer money

By David Edwards
Wednesday, November 9, 2011 9:52 EDT
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Texas state Rep. Joe Driver (Flickr/TR Roberts)
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Texas state Rep. Joe Driver (R) will plead guilty to a third-degree felony on abuse-of-office charges, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

“He is going to plea to the third-degree felony,” Assistant Travis County District Attorney Gregg Cox told The Texas Tribune. “It is a plea of guilt.”

In a 2010 interview with The Associated Press, Driver admitted billing his campaign for luxury hotels, airline tickets and other travel expenses. He would then submit those same expenses to the state and pocket the money.

The lawmaker claimed he thought the practice was completely legal.

“Well, it doesn’t sound like it is now, if you bring it up that way,” Driver told AP’s Jay Root. “Now you’re scaring the heck out of me.”

“It pretty well screws my week,” he added.

The amount of overcharges are estimated at between $20,000 and $100,000. The “abuse of official capacity” third-degree felony can be punished with a fine of up to $10,000 and between two and ten years in prison. He has already reimbursed his campaign with $50,000 of personal funds.

The assistant district attorney said he would be satisfied if Driver served between two and ten years of probation.

“You’ve got an elected official pleading guilty to a third-degree felony,” Cox explained. “I think that’s going to be a pretty good outcome.”

Driver announced last month that he would be retiring at the end of his term in 2013, after nearly two decades in office.

During the most recent legislative session, the Dallas-area Republican received attention for championing a bill that would have allowed guns on college campuses.

Photo: Flickr/TR Roberts

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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