Texas Agriculture Commissioner Miller Under Fire for Taxpayer-Funded Trip
Last February, newly appointed Texas Agriculture Commissioner took a trip to Oklahoma City with a top aide, citing that the visit was to meet with Oklahoma lawmakers and the state's lead agricultural official. Texas Department of Agriculture posted a photo of Sid Miller and Oklahoma representatives on Facebook (has since been deleted from their account), but recent interviews have implied another reason he visited Oklahoma.
One of the lawmakers and another with direct knowledge of the trip both revealed that Miller told them he received a medical procedure in Oklahoma. The rental car receipt that Miller and his aide used shows they drove 128 miles on the trip.
Why does this matter?
Because the commissioner flew to Oklahoma City on the taxpayers' dime, charging at least $1,120 according to budget records.
If he actually underwent a medical procedure under false pretenses of business, he should have only used his personal funds for the trip.
The procedure, which Miller told the Houston Chronicle he had received, is known as the "Jesus Shot" - a controversial (but legal) medication done only by one Oklahoma City doctor, which claims it takes away all pain for life. However, Miller neither confirmed nor denied whether he visited said doctor during his visit in February, 2015.
Miller indicated that the Facebook post was proof he made a business trip, however several lawmakers in Oklahoma insisted that their talk with Miller was a brief chat that began in the hallway.
Representative Jerry Shoemake said of the 15-minute chat:
He's saying that was the business purpose of his trip?
What'd we talk about?" he added. "Nothing in particular. I mean, nothing."
In response to recent questions, Miller's office said he will personally pay back the flight and rental car costs.
Out of an abundance of caution the commissioner is reimbursing the state for the cost of this trip.
This is not the first time Miller has had issues with the spending of public funds. He was under fire last year when he hired four friends and campaign aides to $180,000 per year jobs without giving anyone else the chance to apply (which is required by law). The Chronicle also reported he gave more bonuses in his first nine months than his predecessor did over the course of two-and-a-half-years.