AUSTIN — Prosecutors asked a jury Tuesday to send a message about transparency in government by convicting a South Texas lawmaker they allege sold access to the Legislature.
A Travis County jury began deliberating the fate of state Rep. Kino Flores, 52, of Mission, who is charged with nine counts of tampering with a government record and two counts of perjury. He faces up to two years in prison if convicted.
“What he was really doing is selling the power of his office,” Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox said. “He was selling his influence.”
Attorneys for Flores, who has served in the Legislature since 1996, denied allegations of bribery and ridiculed what they described as a thin criminal case hinging on clerical errors in required financial filings with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Perry Minton, one of Flores’ attorneys, became emotional during closing arguments while telling jurors the toll the allegations have put on the veteran legislator.
“Where does he go back to get his reputation?” Minton said. “He has been dragged through the Valley, through the newspapers for five years. You guys are the final gatekeepers. It is up to y’all to say it stops here.”
The jury must sort through a week of testimony from Flores’ son, a prominent ethics attorney and a businessman convicted of Medicaid fraud to decide whether Flores intentionally omitted income sources and property from required financial statements.
Among the most severe allegations is whether Flores, the former chairman of an influential House committee that oversees gambling and liquor interests, accepted money in exchange for legislative considerations.