Todd Smith, top political consultant to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, was arrested earlier this week over allegations that he schemed to accept money in exchange for state hemp licenses.
The claims against him also alleged that he solicited campaign contributions. He allegedly took $55,000, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. In total, all those involved in the scheme are accused of soliciting a total of $150,000 for license guarantees. The group is said to have taken $25,000 up front for these deals. As a part of this, Smith is being charged with third-degree felony theft.
“Todd Smith created by words and his conduct, a false impression of fact that affected the judgment of others in the transactions to obtain a hemp license and/or conduct a survey that was never attempted by Todd Smith,” the affidavit claimed.
Miller claimed in response to these allegations that he “had no idea” this was going on, and Smith could not be reached for comment.
“That was Todd, between him and his clients,” Miller said regarding the situation.
“This matter is being investigated by the Texas Rangers on behalf of the Department of Public Safety in collaboration with the Travis County District Attorney’s office,” Travis Considine, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, said according to a statement. “Our offices will be keeping the community updated as more information becomes available.”
Todd Smith Released on Bond
Smith was arrested this week and taken to the Travis County jail, but then released the next day on a personal recognizance bond, which was set at $10,000.
The charges against Smith claim that he used another person as a middle man to help people obtain licenses, but the charges so far don’t name who that person is. Apparently, the middle man would tell those looking for licenses that he was “working directly with senior leadership at the TDA” and “needed $150,000.00 in cash, with some of the money going toward campaign contributions, in order to receive the ‘guaranteed’ hemp license.”
Things came to a head with the scheme, according to the affidavit, when one man looking for a license agreed to the bribe and delivered $30,000 in cash to the middle man. Later, the anonymous, hopeful hemp farmer learned he was not actually guaranteed a license. He called Smith, and Smith then “denied any knowledge but did admit to receiving a $5,000.00 gift from” the middle man in the situation, according to the claims. It is not yet clear who exactly was involved, or the extent of knowledge the different accused individuals had.
Hemp licenses became available to interested parties in 2019 when House Bill 1325 was signed into law. This allowed state farmers to grow industrial hemp legally, although they are still not authorized to grow THC-containing cannabis. It is also not clear how long this has been an issue in the Texas hemp industry.
This also isn’t the first time Smith has fallen on the wrong side of the law. He was previously called out for blurring lines in his campaign when he allegedly told a San Antonio businessman that donating to Miller’s campaign would get him a Texas Department of Agriculture appointment. Smith also asked the man for a $29,000 personal loan. This series of events does not look good for the current situation.
Smith has been on Miller’s team for years, when Miller initially created four assistant commissioner positions to support his own position. Another was given to Smith’s wife, Kellie Housewright-Smith. Salaries for these positions started at $180,000.
While the investigation is ongoing, there are many issues of concern so far for Smith, and Miller’s team. Hopefully, with this coming to light, things will be easier from now on for Texas hemp farmers.