On behalf of Service Corporation International (SCI), I would like to clarify certain issues that are central to John Mintz's Aug. 23 article, "Texas Suit Dispute's Bush's Truthfulness; Ex-Funeral Monitor Accuses Governor."
In April 1998, SCI lodged a complaint relating to an investigation being conducted by the Texas Funeral Service Commission, which was being conducted without any regard to the laws regulating the funeral industry, the commission's own rules pertaining to investigations and principles of due process. The commission has never addressed these concerns, nor has it even responded to SCI's complaint.
The report that the Texas Funeral Service Commission fined SCI $450,000 is not accurate. No fine has ever been assessed. What actually transpired is that, in August 1998, after a preliminary review, the commission's complaint review committee recommended fines against SCI affiliates. The full commission has not levied or even considered those fines, as required by law -- nor has SCI ever been granted a hearing on the matter, despite its numerous requests. The Texas attorney general has also recently issued a legal opinion which makes it clear that SCI's embalming arrangements were consistent with applicable licensing laws.
Additionally, the article neglected to mention -- with regard to the May 1998 meeting that plaintiff Eliza May, the commission's fired director, attended in Joe Allbaugh's office -- that both the chairman of the Texas Funeral Service Commission and the commission's own attorney were present at that meeting.
We strongly believe that the actions taken by the Texas Funeral Service Commission exceeded its lawful authority. Consequently, we registered our concerns with the office of the governor, which has both legal oversight and authority over it. We believe that this course of action was reasonable and appropriate in every respect.
DANIEL J. REAT
SCI Management Corp.