Texas State Rep. Phil King allegedly accepted two free tickets to the 2004 Super Bowl at Reliant Stadium in Houston from CenterPoint Energy Vice President Scott E. Rozzell, a violation of the state’s law governing gifts to public officials, according to authorities. When confronted in 2005 about his apparent acceptance of the tickets and a day of hospitality in the CenterPoint Engery luxury box, King denied that CenterPoint had given him the tickets. However, King’s story has recently changed, and King has admitted that he and his son accepted free tickets from Rozzell, but contends that he paid for his own transportation and hotel room.
Under Texas state law, it is illegal for a state official to accept a gift of entertainment in excess of $500 within one calendar year. According to Rozzell, CenterPoint Energy spent nearly double that amount of money on King and his son at the 2004 Super Bowl. According to a report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission in 2004, Rozzell disclosed that his company spent $876.30 on King and his son. When contacted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper, Rozzell said that the amount “sounds right.” The average selling price for tickets on the secondary market to that Super Bowl were more than $2,600 each.
While there are no plans for an ethics investigation into King’s actions, his acceptance of the tickets, could be costly for King, who is facing a challenge from former Weatherford, TX Mayor Joe Tison in the March 4 Republican Primary.