Sunday, February 01, 2009

What’s a Thousand Dollars Between Strangers?

Fort Bend County Sheriff Milton Wright had an envelope for each of 220 Sheriff’s Department deputies the other day. Each and every one of them contained a cashier’s check for $1000. In these trying times an extra grand, tax-free to boot, is a welcome surprise.

The person behind the distribution is known only to Wright, and he isn’t telling who it is.

And that should be the end of the story, right?

Oh, please, where have you been? This is Fort Bend County after all.

Fort Bend’s DA John Healey is calling into question the legality of this act. From the Chronicle:
Fort Bend district attorney John Healey said ‘two sources’ brought the matter to his attention late Thursday. He said he plans to work with the county attorney to review the facts and any relevant laws that might apply.”

“’It would be reckless to point fingers or make claims, but it’s something that has piqued our interest and is worth looking into,’ Healey said.”
At issue is Chapter 36.08 of the Texas Penal Code, which reads
Sec. 36.08. GIFT TO PUBLIC SERVANT BY PERSON SUBJECT TO HIS JURISDICTION. (a) A public servant in an agency performing regulatory functions or conducting inspections or investigations commits an offense if he solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept any benefit from a person the public servant knows to be subject to regulation, inspection, or investigation by the public servant or his agency.
Emphasis is mine.

This should be open and shut unless the identity of the donor is revealed.

Not to be outdone by the DA, Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert has some questions all of his own.
“County Judge Bob Hebert also questioned whether the sheriff’s office followed proper procedure in accepting the donation. Any gift to any county employee must be approved by Commissioners’ Court, but Hebert knew nothing about the checks until Friday morning, he said.”

“‘I was sort of caught off guard by this,’ Hebert said. “Obviously we didn’t know this was happening. My opinion is, I’m delighted that the deputies got a little cash recognition from somebody, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to do everything and I just want to make sure that we do this the right way.’”
This gives me pause. What is truly the issue here? Healey is concerned about the donation being outside the law, when clearly it is not, and Hebert is concerned about all of that money going to all of those people, is apparently delighted about it, but is annoyed that he was never told about it beforehand.

And it isn’t like this is a brand new piece of news to Sheriff Wright, who knew about this since before Christmas. It seems to me that both Healey and Hebert were intentionally kept in the dark about this whole thing.

Why that is, I can only speculate, but from their reactions someone knew what they were doing by keeping the whole thing under wraps.


Anonymous said...

This smells fishy.

And there's got to better much better uses of the money. Let's see:

* Use it to help pay the back taxes of BHO's cabinet members

* Use it to jump start the Fort Bend economy by investing in STD prevention or condom hand-outs.

Anonymous said...

HE, I read a couple of legal opinions on this and since Sheriff Wright is an elected public official he is apparently in violation because he has admitted knowing whom the donor is. It is further complicated because he leaked that it may be one of those big out of town realestate development companies that does so much business in our area and contributes regularly to our anointed ones. If you remember most of our large MP communities contract out for security and pay hefty fees from some of these companies and their HOAs to either the constables or Sheriffs office. On top of this Wright's left hand man, chief Brady, launched his campaign for Wrights office, as his hand picked replacement (only 2 months after Wright was re-elected), to apparently coincide with this massive gift to a select number of deputies.

Much more going on than just a gift to the patrol boys.

Anonymous said...

It's chapter 36 of the TX penal code.