State Senator advising Dallas Police-Fire Pension board

A state senator who will be voting on a bill to overhaul the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System is now advising the pension board -- and under Texas law, it's all legal.

John Whitmire (D-Houston) spoke to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension board in November, one month before the board hired him as a lobbyist.

"Most members of the legislature couldn't tell you three things about the workings of a pension fund,” Whitmire said in November.

Whitmire was first elected to the legislature in 1973 as a 23-year-old. Now as its most senior member, he is known as "The Dean". He told members of the pension board that if they were going to get help from state lawmakers they would need professionals.

"They're from every small community in Texas, to talk to them about the dynamics of your fund, they're going to look to some of your representatives and professional help,” Whitmire said.

So the board hired Whitmire, himself.

"He's still going to be advising them for money and then voting on their related issues as a legislator which makes it questionable,” said SMU Political Scientist Cal Jillson.

Jillson said the state can be like the Wild West when it comes to ethics.

“The ethics rules on the Texas legislature are Swiss cheese. The ethics legislators write the ethics rules so they can slip through the holes in the Swiss cheese,” Jillson said.

A spokesperson for the fund emphasized on the phone that Whitmire was hired as a federal and not a state lobbyist.  

But city council member Lee Kleinman says that's simply a loophole.

“He's going to take action on a plan that's put forth in the senate and he's being paid by this board.  If that's not a conflict I don't know what is,” Kleinman said.

Whitmire could not be reached for comment. The pension fund has not yet provided FOX4 with a copy of Whitmire's contract, which would include how much he's being paid.

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