The following information is taken from Texas Government Code, Title 5, Chapter 573
The Nepotism Law is designed to prevent office holders from appointing close relatives to office or employment with the ESD. The law states that a commissioner may not appoint, confirm the appointment of, or vote for the appointment or confirmation of the appointment of an individual to a position that is to be directly or indirectly compensated from public funds or fees of office if the individual is related to the commissioner by marriage or by blood.
Exempted from this provision is a person who has been in continuous employment in said office for a period prior to the election or appointment of the officer or member who is related to the employee in the prohibited degree:
- at least 30 days if the officer or member is appointed
- at least six months if the officer or member is elected at an election other than the general election for state and county officers
- at least one year if the officer or member is elected at the general election for state and county officers
Other members of the governing body may not vote to hire a person who is a close relative of a public official, even if the public official with the conflict excuses themselves from the vote.
An official who violates the nepotism laws commits official misconduct, which is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $100 to $1000.
ESDs should have an attorney to review each case where it appears a possible conflict exists.
Disqualification of Certain Board Candidates
In specific counties in Texas, some candidates for the ESD board of commissioners may be disqualified. These disqualification rules only affect Harris County and counties which are located completely within:
- a county with a population of more than 200,000 that borders Lake Palestine; or
- a county with a population less than 200,000 that borders another state and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
If the district is within one of these counties, it cannot have commissioners who are:
- related with the third degree of blood or marriage with a person who: a) provides a professional service to the district; b) is a commissioner of the same district; or c) is a person who is an employee or a volunteer of an agency providing emergency services to the district;
- is an employee of a commissioner of the same district, attorney, or other person providing professional services to the district;
- is serving as an attorney, consultant, or architect or in some other professional capacity for the district or an emergency services organization providing emergency services to the district; or
- fails to maintain the qualifications required by law to serve as a commissioner.