With a monomaniacal drive to draw attention to himself that would make even Eve Harrington blush, Todd Staples is all about Todd Staples. Recently, he’s been out pimping a program at TDA (paid for by the Federal Government… I guess Todd’s federalism alarm only goes off when it’s a program he can’t use to glorify himself) to feed underprivileged kids over the summer.
Of course, no one has a problem feeding needy kids during the summer. In fact, it’s something that absolutely should be done and a program that Hank Gilbert heavily supports. What he’s not in favor of is Todd’s use of the program to promote himself. Ladies and gentleman, I give you The Texas Watchdog which landed on this story back in February…
“He is taking advantage of federal tax dollars that would be better spent feeding kids in the summertime,” Hank Gilbert, (pictured at left) one of the Democrats running in the March primary and a staunch supporter of the federal school nutrition program in Texas. “We certainly will be talking about this as a campaign issue. I wish we could get legislation passed to prevent agency heads from doing this altogether during the election cycle.”
No, no… you didn’t misread. Todd Staples, in one of his more craven self-promotion schemes, is actually using federal money intended to feed needy kids to promote the program with television ads featuring (you had to see this coming) Todd Staples. Sure the program needs to be promoted, but did they really need to take money from it to shoot commercials featuring Staples? As it turns out, no…
Rodriguez said he had almost never seen a high-ranking agency head to do the ads himself. State Comptroller Susan Combs, who preceded Staples as agriculture commissioner, said she never served as a spokesperson for one of her programs, nor could she remember a previous commissioner doing it. The heads of the state food programs in Oklahoma and Arkansas said they have not done ads for their programs.
Andy Wilson, a researcher specializing in campaign finance issues for the liberal advocacy group Public Citizen, said the appearance of Staples himself in the ads raises ethical questions that get sharper at a time when Staples is trying to be re-elected. While the ads have no blatant political message, they offer considerable name recognition in places where voters don’t even know the name of their own state representative, Wilson said.
“If we’re feeding poor kids I want the state of Texas to get every federal tax dollar they can for it,” Wilson said. “But Todd Staples doesn’t need to be in those ads. I have real ethical issues with it.”
Yeah, that’s Todd Staples… taking $80,000 earmarked to feed kids so that he can shoot an ad for himself. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy election.