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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


It’s almost time.....Campaign finance reports are due on July 15 and I’m taking bets that our esteemed Fort Bend County Commissioners will have a few no-shows. You are supposed to be fined for late reports but seldom does the state attorney general bother with that....and they know it.

The Campaign Finance Reports shows from whom you’ve received donations from and how you’ve spent your money. It’s on the honor system because to really check on the report, you would have to have broad subpoena powers.....and they know it.

The law requires that Fort Bend County Commissioners file their reports in the Elections office. That means if you want to see them, you have to go to the courthouse annex during regular office hours...and they know it.

A couple of years ago, County Judge Bob Hebert made space available on the Public Information part of the county’s web site for the commissioners to post their finance reports.

They are a little hard to find, but persistence pays off. You have to look under “Fort Bend County,” then “Public Information Center,” then “News,” then “Officeholder Campaign Financial Reports,” then each officeholder’s name.

A cursory glace tells you that County Judge Bob Hebert is totally current. Commissioner Richard Morrison hasn’t posted his for the last half of 2009. Neither has Commissioner Grady Prestage posted his for the last half of 2009 and Commissioner Andy Meyers of the “It’s None of Your Business since I am a CPA” school, hasn’t posted one since 2007. He’s four quarters behind and what do you want to bet that he won’t post his 2010 first quarter report?

Commissioner James Patterson is totally up to date.

There is no law that says the Commissioners have to post their reports on the county’s web site, but for those commissioners preaching “total transparency,” this would be a good place to start.

I'm mad all over again.....I got an e-mail from a source that told me where all those deputies and detectives got that “anonymous” $1,000 each last year. Supposedly, the recipients do not know from where the money originated, but I think most of them suspect. In any event it was an interesting day as Andy Meyers had another of his “Appreciation Breakfasts” that day (the only ones appreciating him were county vendors who get their business from the likes of Meyers) and, Sheriff Milton Wright announced that his chief deputy would be running for sheriff four years hence.

Then the sheriff and his boy scurried back to the sheriff’s department for a mandatory meeting with the deputies and detectives and announced the “anonymous” $1,000 per person “donation.”

It was generally believed that the money came from a “friend” of the sheriff and his chief deputy and was a way of laundering the money into the chief deputy’s campaign account.

That didn’t happen.

Most of those ungrateful deputies and detectives kept their $1,000 for themselves and only a handful donated a smidgeon to the chief for his campaign.

Interestingly, no one could find that this was illegal. Not District Attorney John Healey. Not County Attorney Roy Cordes.

Now in Harris County, the firemen who got a big screen television set from Mattress Mac had to give it back because no public official can take a gift for doing his/her job was the ruling. I guess our DA and County Attorney couldn’t find that rule.

They didn’t even ask for an Attorney General’s opinion on the matter, perhaps because they were afraid of the answer.

And no one has ever said how the income tax situation would be handled. Was the $1,000 subject to payroll taxes? Does the IRS consider it a “gift” and wouldn’t the total $250,000 go over the “gift” limit?

I think it is shameful that the DA and CA allowed this to happen, but maybe by the time they heard of it, all those deputies and detectives had run and cashed their checks. And by the way, who signed the checks? Wouldn’t that mean the “gift” was no longer anonymous.

I’m just glad that very little money ended up in the chief deputy’s campaign account. Thwarted again!

A lesson in what happens when you don’t think the rules apply to you!

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