Smith was arrested on the charges in May. According to the arrest affidavit, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Texas Rangers suspect Smith of selling hemp licenses to prospective growers for thousands of dollars in 2019 even though the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) only charges $100 for the license.
Following the passage of the congressional Farm Bill in 2018, the legislature legalized hemp not meant for smoking in 2019 with the passage of House Bill 1325. The bill took effect in June 2019.
Shortly afterward, Smith and his associate Keenan Williams allegedly led a pair of would-be hemp producers to believe that the TDA would only issue 15 total hemp licenses in all of Texas. Williams told the prospective entrepreneurs, Andre Vinson and Hannah Smith, that Smith would need $150,000 in cash to issue a hemp license, with some of the money going toward campaign contributions.
According to the officer’s report in the arrest affidavit, subpoenad bank records show that Smith received thousands from Vinson’s bank account.
The affidavit says the money changed hands in TDA offices.
While the allegations have swirled for months, Miller has defended Smith and called them politically motivated.
“It happens every election. They know they’re not going to get you on anything, but the process is the penalty. All they need is a headline: Sid Miller’s political consultant under investigation for selling hemp licenses,” Miller told The Houston Chronicle. “Well, they brought him in for questioning. They said OK, this was 8 months ago, they said we’re not filing charges and we’re not indicting you, so end of the story, folks, move on. But they got the headlines, so they bring up that old crap.”
However, Miller said that he and Smith mutually agreed to end Smith’s employment with his campaign after the indictment, The Texas Tribune reports.
In a debate with primary election challenger and outgoing state Rep. James White (R-Hillister), Miller said earlier in January that Smith had not been indicted or charged.
White recalled Miller’s defense of Smith after news of the indictment broke yesterday, accusing Miller of dishonesty.
“Sid Miller lied in a church when he told an audience there was no investigation at all. Today, his consultant was indicted for theft and bribery in a scheme to shake down Texas farmers,” White wrote.
Smith’s attorneys rejected all claims of wrongdoing.
“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. 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,” attorneys Sam Bassett and Perry Minton stated.
Miller is facing White and economics professor Carey Counsil in the Republican primary. Two Democrats are also vying for the seat: Susan Hays and Ed Ireson.
D 1 DC 21 100026 Todd Smith Arrest Affidavit by The Texan on Scribd
Update: This article has been updated with the development that Smith no longer works for Miller.
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