In any other state, an alliance with a convicted Ponzi schemer, a paid stint promoting an FDA-banned diet pill and an assault charge for punching a state representative might preclude a candidate from vying for a seat on the state Supreme Court.
Not in Texas.
Instead, a conservative radio talk show host once named one of the state’s worst legislators by Texas Monthly hopes to unseat incumbent Justice Paul Green, a Republican who’s held on to his seat for a decade.
The challenger: Rick Green.
The primary race is for one of three contested seats on the state’s highest court. Legal experts say the Green versus Green race is a prime example of why judges shouldn’t be elected, and how down-ballot races can be decided based on little more than name recognition.
Or, in the case of the Green matchup, name mis-recognition.
“If Rick Green wins this race, it’s another indication of how defective the process is,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, a nonprofit that investigates political corruption. “Not too many voters know about [Green’s] indiscretions. If he’s elected, he certainly won’t be the most qualified.”
Rick Green has a long history of skirting basic ethics rules, and his brief tenure in state politics was marred by scandal.
In the early 2000s, Rick Green served as a state representative for House District 45, a purple-ish district anchored in the Hill Country ‘burb of Dripping Springs. While in office, Green represented Melvin Cox, a family friend and business associate convicted of defrauding investors of $30 million in a Ponzi scheme that promised returns as high as 160 percent a year. Cox, who had been on the board of one of Green’s companies in the 1990s, received a 16-year sentence for running the operation. Green acted as Cox’ representative to his parole board, and the businessman was released after serving less than three years in prison.