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Strayhorn rapped over investigation
Friday, 05 May 2006
Attorney general rules she didn't have authority to recommend an agency be closed
"I was asked by a legislator to investigate the Texas Residential Construction Commission. I did it, and if the attorney general wants to take me to court, let's go," she said.Strayhorn said her investigation was prompted by a request from state Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, who wanted to know how the agency's consumer complaint process compared with other states and if legislation that created the commission discouraged good home building.

Houston Chronicle 
 
Strayhorn rapped over investigation
Attorney general rules she didn't have authority to recommend an agency be closed
May 4, 2006 By CLAY ROBISON
AUSTIN - Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn exceeded her authority when she investigated the Texas Residential Construction Commission and recommended it be abolished, Attorney General Greg Abbott said Wednesday.

The main ramifications of Abbott's ruling, however, are political, not legal, and Strayhorn was unapologetic.

"I was asked by a legislator to investigate the Texas Residential Construction Commission. I did it, and if the attorney general wants to take me to court, let's go," she said.

Strayhorn said her investigation was prompted by a request from state Rep. Todd Smith, R-Euless, who wanted to know how the agency's consumer complaint process compared with other states and if legislation that created the commission discouraged good home building.

Abbott ruled that the comptroller didn't have the authority to investigate and report on the policies, management and operations of a state agency unless requested by the governor.

Gov. Rick Perry, who appointed the commission and whom Strayhorn is trying to unseat as an independent candidate, didn't ask for her help.

"The comptroller has been so busy trying to do everyone else's job she hasn't done her own job," Perry spokeswoman Kathy Walt said.

Presenting her report in January, Strayhorn said the TRCC, created in 2003, purportedly to regulate home builders, was nothing more than a "builder protection agency."

"If it were up to me personally, I would blast this Texas Residential Construction Commission off the bureaucratic books," she said.

The law that created the commission supported by Republican and Democratic legislators, requires buyers to go through an inspection and dispute resolution process before they can proceed to binding arbitration or file lawsuits against builders.

Although builders said the process would reduce lawsuits and help resolve disputes quickly and less expensively, Strayhorn said the agency "imposes costly and bureaucratic roadblocks for homeowners."

Duane Waddill, the commission's executive director, said the agency plays a vital role for consumers and it was too early to judge its effectiveness.

Abbott's opinion was requested by state Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas, who questioned Strayhorn's authority.

Abbott said the comptroller has the power to investigate agency expenditures, receipts and disbursements, "but this cannot be construed as authorizing a more broad-based investigation."

Strayhorn responded: "If a legislator requests me to act when it comes to the fiscal matters of this state, I will act. This is a constitutional office, and we disagree with the opinion."

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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
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