In #Texas, a top consultant to the state’s #Agriculture #Commissioner is arrested over his involvement in an 150,000 #dollar #hemp licensing corruption scheme. Todd Smith, longtime political advisor to head of the state’s agriculture department Sid Miller, is accused of soliciting bribes and #campaign contributions in exchange for guaranteed #business permits. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, a prospective hemp licensee paid 30,000 dollars in cash to an unnamed middleman in #November of #2019, before failing to receive the permit he had been promised. This came after Texas legalized #industrial hemp #production, manufacturing and sales earlier that year. Smith, who allegedly collected a total of 55,000 dollars as a result of the fraudulent dealings, now faces charges of third #degree felony theft. The incident isn’t the first time Miller’s aide has come under scrutiny for potential #corruption, as he reportedly asked San #Antonio businessman Richard Branson for a campaign donation and personal loan, in order to secure his appointment within the state’s department of agriculture back in 2015. Despite paying Smith, Branson was passed up for the available position on the department’s #Rural #Health Task Force. The Texas #Rangers’ investigation into the more recent allegations of corruption is ongoing. Miller has denied any knowledge of the scandal, while Smith has not yet been reached for comment.
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