Political aide to Texas agriculture commissioner indicted

The top 10 hemp growing states include Colorado, Arizona, California, Kentucky, Michigan, New York and Florida, along with Oregon, Illinois and North Carolina.
Posted at 10:00 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 23:09:06-05

A longtime aide to Texas’ agriculture commissioner was indicted Tuesday on charges of soliciting thousands of dollars in bribes from farmers in exchange for licenses to produce hemp.

Todd Smith, a top aid to Commissioner Sid Miller, was indicted by a Travis County grand jury, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Smith was arrested in May and faces charges theft and commercial bribery.

Under Texas law governing the hemp industry, licenses are supposed to cost $100. Smith was accused of soliciting tens of thousands in cash from prospective applicants. Growing hemp became legal in Texas in 2019.

The newspaper reports that earlier this month, Miller brushed aside the allegations against Smith and said Smith remained a member of his team.

“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 said in the interview.

Miller, a Republican, face two opponents in the upcoming primary.

Smith’s attorney, Sam Bassett, said they were “disappointed” in the indictment.

“(Smith) was not invited to address the grand jury. He is not guilty of these charges and intends to vigorously defend himself,” Bassett wrote in an email.

Miller declined to comment to the newspaper Tuesday night.