If Tom DeLay and other Texans hadn't already given us a clue, the Texas Ethics Commission has sealed it: Texas ethics is to ethics what Texas Book Depositories are to book depositories.
The state Ethics Commission just voted 5-3 to allow public officials to file financial reports disclosing only the type of gift received, not its value. It's up to you to guess whether it's $250 — the minimum amount that must be reported — or $250,000.
The commissioners based their ruling on their perception that state election law failed to specify the value of a gift as part of its legal description on a disclosure form. They issued an opinion stating that the law required officials to specify only cash, check or money order, not the amount.
The ruling clarified an earlier decision to give a pass to a State Employees Retirement System board member who described a $50,000 gift from a Houston homebuilder simply as a "check." The money helped pay for legal fees he incurred as treasurer of a political action committee connected to Tom DeLay.
Texas politicians probably don't need the help, but I'm offering this start at a Texas financial disclosure thesaurus for those good ol' boys who draw a blank at reporting time.
Cadillac Escalade: ride, wheels
Cases of fine French wine: boxes, beverage, processed fruit
Fur coat: garment, wrap, animal by-products
Holiday weekend with Las Vegas hooker: travel guide, massage, Christmas ornament
Large bag of Kruggerands: bag, loose change, collectibles
Plane tickets to Paris: travel documents
Scotland golf outing with Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay: golf