Tom and Christi Craddick accused of making millions from industry they regulate

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 9:59 PM CDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - An investigative article published in the Texas Monthly today says two prominent West Texans working as public officials in Austin have made millions of dollars off the industries they regulate.

According to the article written by Russell Gold, State Representative Tom Craddick and Railroad Commission (RRC) of Texas Chair Christi Craddick made $10 million last year off oil and gas rights.

“This is perfectly legal,” Gold said.

The article states Rep. Craddick sits on the House Energy Resources Committee but also owns small portions of about 600 oil and gas leases.

CBS7 previously covered how his daughter, Christi Craddick, has taken donations from the entities she regulates, but the breadth of those donations and investments were not known at the time.

“That just sets up a very tricky ethical problem,” Gold said.

Gold combed through 41 separate tax offices in West Texas to find the numbers, which the Craddicks aren’t required to fully report to the public based on Texas’ meager financial reporting laws. It’s a setup that leaves Texans in the dark regarding the loyalties and business dealings of its public officials.

“[The public] deserves to know that when they send their elected officials down to Austin, that those individuals are representing the public’s interests and not their own,” God said.

That’s the crux of the problem.

Gold explained how Rep. Craddick has pushed legislation in recent years that would allow him to further profit from his oil and gas dealings. Whether or not potential profits have motivated the legislation is unknown because Rep. Craddick did not agree to interview with Texas Monthly or CBS7.

“He’s altering and pushing bills that will directly benefit him and his family,” Gold said.

Commissioner Craddick’s dealings as a member of the RRC have been more public. In April of last year, Craddick stunned onlookers when she blamed the death of vegetation in parts of West Texas on a drought rather than multiple incidences of unchecked produced water disposal and orphaned wells wreaking havoc on West Texas landowners.

“It’s barren because you’re in the middle of West Texas,” Craddick told a Middle Pecos Groundwater Conservation District lawyer. “I grew up out there, and you’re in the middle of a drought.”

To Gold, it’s a prime example that calls into question where the Craddicks’ loyalties lie, allowing industry malfeasance to run unchecked. It’s a systemic problem that could hurt the state long term.

“The question that we as Texans need to ask is this: Is that the kind of oversight we want in such a vital and important industry in our state?” Gold said.

The State of Texas has not turned a blind eye to the problem. In 2013, the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, the state’s government evaluation agency, recommended changing the rules that allowed RRC regulators to take money from the companies it regulates. In 2016-17, the TSAC recommended a name change from The Railroad Commission of Texas, a confusing, obfuscatory name, to the Texas Energy Commission.

Neither suggestion was ever adopted, leaving the Craddicks with thicker wallets and Texans with bigger questions.

“They seem to be focused on letting oil and gas companies do what they want,” Gold said. “That’s not really a recipe for a vibrant industry over the long term.”