One of the state’s most influential lobbyists and a top political consultant to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller has been indicted after investigators said he stole money from possible investors in the state’s hemp industry.
A Travis County grand jury indicted Todd M. Smith on charges of theft and commercial bribery. The case was presented by the Travis County district attorney’s conviction integrity and special prosecutions unit, which handles complaints involving political actors, financial crimes, environmental crimes and wage theft.
Smith was originally arrested only on the felony theft charge, but now he also faces the bribery charge, a state jail felony.
“We are holding accountable powerful actors who abuse the system and break the law,” District Attorney José Garza said. “Our community needs to know that no one is above the law.”
Miller on Tuesday said that he and Smith have mutually agreed to terminate Smith’s association with Miller’s campaign, as Miller seeks a third term as agriculture commissioner.
“My campaign and the (Texas Department of Agriculture) will cooperate fully with any agency involved in this matter so it can be resolved openly, fairly and judiciously,” Miller said in a statement.
Smith denies any wrongdoing, his lawyers said.
He was arrested in May 2021 after a nearly two-year investigation into reports alleging that he promised assistance in securing hemp production licenses from Miller’s office. State lawmakers in 2019 had legalized hemp with a new state-regulated program through the Texas Department of Agriculture.
In his arrest affidavit, investigators accuse Smith of stealing more than $30,000, a third-degree felony for which he faces up to 10 years behind bars. The punishment for commercial bribery is up to two years in jail.
Witnesses and alleged victims told the Texas Department of Public Safety that they relied on Smith’s services to help secure a hemp license, which included a survey of property for the operations needed for the licenses.
Although anyone in the state is eligible to receive a hemp license, the alleged victims said they’d been under the impression that they had to spend $150,000 in payments to consultants and elected officials to receive one.
As of Aug. 2, a hemp license is $258 per facility.
Smith never registered any of the alleged victims as clients of his lobbyist services in 2019, the affidavit says.
Smith’s attorneys, Sam Bassett and Perry Minton, said Smith has never violated any laws and did not steal from anyone.
“We are disappointed that the Travis County district attorney has obtained an indictment against Todd Smith. He was not invited to address the grand jury,” they said in a statement. “He is not guilty of these charges and intends to vigorously defend himself against the allegations made by the Travis County district attorney’s office.”
Smith’s affidavit also implicates Keenan Williams, who investigators said worked with Smith. Williams was indicted on a felony theft charge in August.
Smith’s work with Miller’s public office has previously come under scrutiny. A San Antonio businessman in 2018 accused Smith of promising him an appointment to a public advisory role in return for contributing to Miller’s campaign. Then Smith hit him up for a personal loan of $29,000, according to a promissory note the two signed.