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Lone Star Project Report

Zedler’s Ethics Problems Continue

Documents show Zedler hired a convicted tax cheat

Updated April 3, 2012

This report, originally released October 15, 2010, has been updated to reflect that Mr. Craig Ownby pled guilty and served jail time for a federal misdemeanor tax violation.

Zedler and convicted felon Ownby

Bill Zedler & tax cheat Craig Ownby

Documents reviewed by the Lone Star Project reveal that Bill Zedler has paid thousands of dollars in consulting fees to a company operated by convicted tax cheat Craig Ownby.

In 2007, Ownby pleaded guilty to failing to file an income tax return following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.  He admitted to willfully failing to file his income taxes in 2000.  Said Special Agent-in-Charge Erick Martinez, “When the majority of citizens out there are making every effort to file their tax returns and report all their income, it is the IRS’s duty to investigate individuals like Wesley Craig Ownby who do not file their tax returns.”

Ownby was sentenced to five months in a federal penitentiary in Louisiana, followed by five months of home confinement and a year of supervised release (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, April 26, 2007).

DOJ Letter listing charges against Craig Ownby
See the DOJ
document detailing
the investigation into
a Zedler campaign
consultant’s tax fraud

Texas Ethics Commission reports show that Bill Zedler has made at least five payments totaling $10,000 to M.W.S.E.A., a defunct real estate company run by Ownby until 2002.  According to the Tarrant County Clerk’s office, MWSEA is the assumed name of an Arlington company owned by Ownby and a business partner.

The company is still listed as active by Tarrant County records and Ownby has listed an MWSEA e-mail address in his capacity as a political consultant for at least one other Republican candidate.

More Zedler Ethics Scandals
Zedler’s actions and personal relationships reveal a disturbing pattern of indifference to the law and basic ethical standards.  Just this month, Zedler’s campaign acknowledged that he “failed to list about $36,000 of contributions from conservative backers on his latest campaign finance report,” including $20,000 from right-wing mega-donor Bob Perry.

This follows Zedler’s disregard for campaign finance laws in 2008, when he was fined for his failure to include a proper disclosure in his campaign mail that year.

Recently, it was revealed that Zedler had accessed private medical records during his tenure as a State Representative to intervene in Texas Medical Board investigations into the practices of some of his donors – including one doctor that injects his patients with jet fuel.