DALLAS — First elected in 2014 as the 12th Agriculture Commissioner in Texas, Sid Miller is now asking voters for a third term. Miller says he still has some projects he wants to finish over the next four years, and at the top of that list is the school lunch program and farm-to-school initiatives.
“I’m responsible for five million school meals each day, but when I came on board, we weren’t serving any local products,” Commissioner Miller said on Inside Texas Politics. "Now, we’ve got our schools buying $65 million worth of locally grown products served in our lunchrooms. No added salt. No dyes. No preservatives. Never flash-frozen. But I’m not stopping there."
The commissioner made a brief stop to his business office in Stephenville to join Inside Texas Politics. But the Republican is already busy campaigning. He had four separate events on this particular day in January alone.
A recent poll by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation showed Miller has a 30-percentage-point lead over his opponents among likely GOP primary voters. And he has former President Trump’s endorsement. But the two Republicans running against him, state Rep. James White and Carey Counsil, are trying to make ethics and corruption a big campaign issue.
Last May, one of Miller’s political consultants was arrested and accused of taking money and campaign contributions in exchange for hemp licenses issued by the Department of Agriculture. On Tuesday, that consultant was indicted on felony charges of theft and commercial bribery related to taking money in exchange for state hemp licenses that are doled out through Miller’s office, according to the Travis County district attorney.
Todd Smith is accused of taking $55,000 as part of the scheme, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Smith and others are accused of soliciting up to $150,000 to get an “exclusive” hemp license from the Texas Department of Agriculture. Smith allegedly said $25,000 would be used for a public poll on hemp. A hemp license from the state costs $100.
Miller also sued the federal government last year, claiming the American Rescue Plan discriminated against white farmers and ranchers because it includes a program designed to give financial aid to minority ranchers and farmers. And, Miller has faced controversy in the past for allegedly using taxpayer money to take a couple of out-of-state trips.
Miller stressed he’s never been charged with any ethics violations, no charges were ever filed over his travel and he said there’s nothing to the allegations against his consultant.
“These guys are way behind," he said. "They’re desperate, and desperate candidates do desperate things. They’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink at me in hopes that something will stick."
While Miller’s lead is currently solid, recent polling also shows some six-out-of-10 potential Republican primary voters say they don’t yet know who they’ll vote for. Longtime political observers say it is interesting Miller picked up two opponents trying to run to his right. The longtime conservative said good luck with that.
“I don’t think these guys are on my right," Miller said, brushing them off. "I don’t think anybody can get to my right."
Miller served six terms in the Texas House before being elected Agriculture Commissioner.
The Texas Primary is currently scheduled for March 1, 2022.