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Court Tosses $10K Fine Against Ex-Legislator

(CN) - A former Texas legislator did not violate election laws when he used campaign contributions to rent property from his wife, a Texas appeals court ruled.

During his time in the Texas Legislature from 1990 to 2007, Toby Goodman would buy property with his wife, transfer it to her sole control and then rent it from her when he was in Austin on state business.

A citizen complained about this practice, and the Texas Ethics Commission fined Goodman $10,000 for making payments from campaign contributions to purchase real property.

Goodman appealed the decision, and the trial court ruled in his favor. Justice Sue Walker of the 2nd District Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.

"A legislator's use of political contributions to make a rental payment to his spouse for the use of her separate property does not constitute a payment to purchase real property and does not violate ... the Election Code," Walker wrote.

"Nor is such a payment a conversion to personal use as long as the payment does not exceed the fair market value of the use of the property," she added.

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