2012-08-23 / Front Page

Higgins Investigated

John Higgins, Chief of Staff for State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt, R-Lexington, is under criminal investigation for alleged improprieties related to travel reimbursements he received from the state, officials said Friday.

The Texas Tribune reported that Travis County Assistant District Attorney Gregg Cox, who oversees felony prosecutions of public officials, is investigating a complaint against Higgins. Kleinschmidt and Higgins also confirmed the report.

“I think John will be vindicated once they investigate it,” Kleinschmidt said. “I have full confidence in John.”

Higgins said, “We got a call from the State Audit office recently, informing us that we were being audited. After the audit, they turned their package over to the District Attorney’s Office. We’ve done nothing wrong.”

Higgins went on to say, “Out of a huge stack of travel vouchers we submitted to the auditors, two vouchers worth about $400 combined, were questionable. We offered to reimburse the state for those.”

Higgins said he discovered early this year that he should be filling out and signing travel vouchers and has since kept detailed travel records and adhered to all the guidelines and procedures.

“Every month, I turn in my travel for the upcoming month, telling the House Administration Office where I plan to go. They figure what my mileage will be and reimburse me for the estimated fuel usage. Every trip I’ve ever taken has been approved a month in advance by other people, not someone on our staff,” said Higgins.

“John does a huge amount of travel in the district because we don’t use a district office,” Kleinschmidt said. “So much of our district is located within an hour’s drive. That increases the travel.” He said all the travel reimbursements are recorded and are “very transparent.”

Higgins is still performing his duties as Chief of Staff.

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