First reported by the Texas Standard’s T. L. Langford, an arrest warrant was issued earlier this week for Todd Smith, a lobbyist and campaign consultant for Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
According to the 13-page arrest warrant affidavit, Smith had cooked up a scheme in which he solicited $25,000 from several persons in exchange for supposed access to a limited number of hemp licenses.
The solicitations happened in 2019, before the state had opened its licensing process.
On at least three separate occasions, Smith either directly or indirectly solicited $25,000 from persons interested in obtaining a hemp license.
The solicitation involved telling the interested person that just 15 licenses would be issued.
Smith explained to one victim that Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) needed to pay for a “survey” to win over Republican votes on hemp issues. This was after the state legislature had already adopted its hemp laws. Persons who paid for the survey would be given first access to the license, he was told.
An intermediary for Smith told another victim that the cost for the survey and license would be $150,000. The warrant suggests the victim paid over $75,000 before learning from a TDA employee that there was no restriction on the number of licenses that would be issues.
Multiple invoices from Smith’s lobbying company helped implicate him in the scheme.
According the warrant, Smith used his access as a paid consultant to Miller to have letters created on official TDA letterhead. It’s not clear if Miller was aware of Smith’s behavior, or if his campaign received any contributions from any of the victims.
The warrant was filed in a Travis County District Court earlier this week. You can read it here.