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eXpendit

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Restricted Expenditures
Misuse of State Money or Property

The Texas Constitution prohibits the giving away of the state’s money or property and the use of state money or property for private purposes. State law also requires that state property only be used for state purposes.

Criminal penalties are possible when a public servant intentionally or knowingly misuses government property, services, personnel or any other thing of value belonging to the government.

Examples:

  • Payment of gratuities
  • Sales tax
  • Travel expenses for non employees
  • Purchasing alcohol
  • Purchasing products and services without statutory authority

Definitions:

Misuse
To deal with property contrary to:
  • An agreement under which the public servant holds the property.
  • A contract of employment or oath of office of a public servant.
  • A law, including provisions of the General Appropriations Act specifically relating to government property, that prescribes the manner of custody or disposition of the property.
  • A limited purpose for which the property is delivered or received. (Texas Penal Code Section 39.01(2))
Public servant
A person elected, selected, appointed, employed or otherwise designated as one of the following, even if the person has not yet qualified for office or assumed the person’s duties:
  • An officer, employee or agent of government.
  • A juror or grand juror.
  • An arbitrator, referee or other person who is authorized by law or private written agreement to hear or determine a cause or controversy.
  • An attorney at law or notary public when participating in the performance of a governmental function.
  • A candidate for nomination or election to public office.
  • A person who is performing a governmental function under a claim of right although the person is not legally qualified to do so. (Texas Penal Code Section 1.07(41))

Sources [+]

Texas Constitution Article III, Section 51; Article VIII, Section 3; Article XVI, Section 6(a); Texas Government Code Section 2203.004. Byrd v. City of Dallas, 118 Tex. 28, 6 S.W.2d 738, 740 (1928). Texas Attorney General LO-96-136 (1996). Texas Penal Code Section 39.02(a)(2),(c).