By Colleen M. Vera
To help keep elections in Texas open and transparent, every campaign and political action committee (PAC) must publicly report all donations and expenditures at least twice a year. When actively involved in an election, the number of required public reports increases to help the voters stay informed.
But these political financial reports are based on the honor system. Unless an opponent or concerned citizen files a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission, no one in our government checks to see if any of the reports are even remotely accurate.
A few weeks ago, I was researching a current office holder and went scrolling through her campaign financial reports to see how she spent her campaign funds. I came across a PAC she routinely donated to named the Baptist Ministers’ Association of Houston & Vicinity PAC.
I had never heard of this PAC, so I looked it up on the Texas Ethics Commission site. I found that the PAC has been around since Jan. 15, 1997….but…something REALLY FISHY has been going on since Dr. Max A Miller, Jr. took over the position of PAC Treasurer on Aug. 13, 2009.
With him in charge of the books, since 2010 the PAC has reported over:
...$187,000.00 in donations…
...and only $500.00 left in the bank.
That can’t be brushed off as simple mathematical calculation errors.
I doubt I am the only person who wants to ask the question:
"Pastor Miller, where did all that money go?"
When I found such a huge discrepancy, I filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission. Because of the 24 month statute of limitations on campaign finance reports, I could only question Dr. Miller’s lack of reporting on the funds donated since mid- 2019 - about $33,000.00.
It appears Texas law will never make him go back and report what he did with the $154,000.00 donated before 2019.
But at least the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) responded to my complaint. According to the copy of the letter I received via email, TEC has given Dr. Miller 10 days to respond.
You can view the PAC’s financial reports yourself online at: Jaspersoft: By_Filer_Name (state.tx.us)
If you have trouble maneuvering the website, the PAC’s Filer ID is #00018745 – use this link and cut and paste their ID #: Texas Ethics Commission Search CF (state.tx.us).
To understand why Jesus took such violent action in the Temple precincts, we have to take a look at a bit of background first.
At the time, the Temple of Jerusalem stood in a commanding position on the top of Mount Moriah and dominated the rest of the city.
Previously, in about 20 B.C. an ambitious rebuilding of the Temple was undertaken by Herod the Great to restore it to its original Solomonic glory. He enlarged its precincts which were surrounded by retaining walls of incomparable workmanship and great height. Just inside the walls were great colonnades or porticoes, the most notable of which was Solomon’s Portico (where Jesus sometimes taught – John 10 V.23).
In the Court of the Gentiles (or Outer Court), despite the sanctity of the Temple area, there was a flourishing trade in sacrificial animals. There were shops where pilgrims who had come up to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple could buy oxen, sheep and doves, which could then be offered up in the appropriate sacrifices.
There were tables where money-changers changed money for the payment of the annual Temple tax. Most of the currency circulating in Judea was Roman money but as such coins bore a portrait of the Emperor, it was generally considered unacceptable for sacrificial offerings because it was in violation of the second commandment. So the Roman coins had to be changed into a special coinage which was the only legal fare for Temple dues or sacrifices. This profitable trade, which was supported by the powerful high priestly family of Annas and Caiaphas, was being held in the Temple precincts for the first time. Caiaphas, the High Priest, had also introduced the sale of animals in the Temple forecourt which gave him great financial gain but turned the forecourt into little more than a cattle market.
It was this commercial use of the Court of the Gentiles which prompted Jesus to take firm action as he felt, quite rightly, that this was a shocking misuse of the Temple area.