Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Texas Ag Commissioner Sid "Jesus Shot" Miller Won't Face Criminal Charges

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 5:04 PM

  • Texas Agriculture Commission
State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has had a strange first year in statewide office. He started out by defending deep-fat fryers in Texas public schools, then moved on to joking about nuking "the Muslim world" before begging the Texas Legislature to restore cuts to his office he himself helped make in the first place back when he was a state senator. 

One of the more serious hiccups during Miller's rocky first term in statewide office, however, has to be the curious case of the "Jesus Shot." As Houston Chronicle writer Brian Rosenthal first reported earlier this year, Miller traveled to Oklahoma in 2015 to get the supposedly miraculous (and controversial) lifetime cure for chronic pain on the taxpayer dime. Miller initially said he took the trip to tour the Oklahoma National Stockyards and meet with local officials, which would ostensibly count as state business; as Rosenthal reported, those officials later said they hadn't invited Miller to Oklahoma and weren't even expecting him. The Chronicle then later uncovered a second questionable taxpayer-funded trip during which Miller won almost $900 by competing in a Mississippi rodeo. Once made public, the trips triggered a criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers into the apparent misuse of taxpayer funds after the left-leaning group Progress Texas filed a complaint. 

As the Chron first reported today, prosecutors who have reviewed that investigation determined this month that Miller won't face charges — in part because Miller's office didn't know that using taxpayer money to fund trips out of state to compete in rodeos and obtain probably-dubious miracle cures is illegal. 

According to the memo Travis County prosecutors sent the Texas Department of Public Safety earlier this month, Miller has already paid back whatever taxpayer money he used for those trips. Miller, according to the memo, "claims to have not understood how some expenditures were supposed to have been handled." 

"After reviewing your investigation, our office has determined that criminal intent would be difficult to prove in this case," the memo says. "Additionally, the total amount spent on the trips was relatively small, the state has been refunded all the money it expended on these trips, and the facts have been made known publicly so that Commissioner Miller is likely to be more careful in the future." And that's why, prosecutors say, they closed the investigation without recommending any criminal charges against Miller. 

For his part, Miller had his office put out a statement today thanking Travis County prosecutors and the Texas Rangers for "their professionalism and integrity throughout this process."

Speaking of professionalism: Remember that time Miller compared refugees fleeing unimaginable violence to a pit of venomous snakes



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