Fighting for Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility in Local Government

Kaufman’s Costly and Illegal Scandal- Part 3

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For Part 1, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE.

Kaufman County Judge Bruce Wood, along with District Attorney Erleigh Wiley, have gone unchecked for years and have cost the county dearly.  The ticketing scandal we’ve previously reported on is even worse than it appears on the surface.

In 2014, Kaufman County entered into a contract with American Traffic Solutions that caused the county to act outside its legal authority – issuing illegal traffic citations to its citizens – and imposed a significant cost to county taxpayers. The unlawful contract also resulted in illegal financial transactions and a lack of transparency.

By championing the ATS contract, Wood violated the public trust. By failing to blow the whistle on the entire scandal, or investigate any wrongdoing by those involved, Wiley is derelict in her duty to Kaufman taxpayers.

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New Active Voter Fraud Investigation – Nueces County

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The Office of the Attorney General of Texas announced a third investigation in Nueces County. The Nueces County Clerk, Kara Sands, filed a complaint with the AG’s office regarding various election irregularities in the local municipal elections. Interestingly enough, similar to Tarrant County, the election which triggered the complaints was a water board election. That complaint has now resulted in three active criminal investigations.

I was honored to work alongside Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands during both the regular and special sessions on election reform bills. Kara was a pivotal stakeholder in getting SB5 and other bills through the Texas House and ultimately to be signed by the governor. She was instrumental in getting county clerks and election administrators on board for various aspects of the reforms, including the controversial repeal of the nursing home bill. She has seen first hand the results of these policies on the ground and knows how we need to secure our elections.

A news report of the most recent investigation in Nueces County can be seen HERE.

The OAG’s active investigations in Nueces County include both in person fraud as well as mail in ballot fraud.

With the passage of SB5, the addition of organized election fraud to the State RICO statute and other reforms passed this session, we are hopeful that over the next few years we can finally put an end to these types of activities.

Kaufman’s Costly and Illegal Scandal – Part 2

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For Part 1, click HERE.

County Judge Bruce Wood led Kaufman County into a costly contract with American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for traffic cameras. The contract resulted in illegal overreaches of authority in addition to costs over $180,000.

Traffic Cameras Were Unnecessary

Kaufman, like most other rural counties, has five law enforcement agencies to patrol its roads and enforce traffic laws. Each school zone is protected by local school police, city police, constables, deputy sheriffs, and the highway patrol. Not only was the ticketing contract with ATS unlawful, it would have added a redundant sixth layer of law enforcement.

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House Ballot Fraud Bill – HB184 vs. HB47

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The special session is nearing an end and the Governor’s call for increased penalties for mail in voter fraud has stalled in the House in the form of HB 184.

There is a lot of discussion, driven largely by our office, as to the differences between HB184 by Goldman and HB47 by Schofield. We are fighting FOR HB184;, let me tell you why.

First, let me back up and discuss something that happened during regular session. The TX Legislature passed a bill we now refer to as the “nursing home” bill. This  flew under the radar and was added at the last minute as an amendment. This bill opens up every nursing home in Texas to ballot harvesting. It creates an unfunded mandate on every county, and many, many other problematic details. The Democrat party has been bragging about getting this bill passed. One party official even bragged that the Dem party has already calculated this bill will get them nearly 300,000 additional harvested ballots. They did the math;, they wrote the bill;, they got it passed. THIS IS A VERY BIG PROBLEM. This week over 100 county election administrators signed a letter opposing this legislation.

The main difference between HB184 and HB47, both as amended, is that HB184 FULLY REPEALS the nursing home bill. Let me be clear – the “nursing home” bill is flawed at every level, it cannot be “fixed”, but  must be repealed. HB47 naively attempts to patch the “nursing home” bill. This is like trying to fix Obamacare. Repeal and Replace is the only viable choice. This difference alone is worth the fight.

Aside from that, HB184 differentiates itself from HB47 in several ways., I’ll list some of them here:

HB184 prohibits electronic signatures on applications and carrier envelopes. HB47 does not.

HB184 requires original copy of applications, no more faxed or emailed mail in applications. HB47 does not.

HB184 adds preservation of ballot materials including canceled ballots and a mandatory reporting to the AG’s office. This is vital to track and document fraud for the long term elimination of it. HB47 does not.

HB184 includes voter impersonation penalties for using a mail in ballot., HB47 does not.

HB184 clarifies that the two signatures on the application and carrier envelope must both be that of the voter, not just match. HB47 does not.

HB184 adds liability to ballot board members who accept invalid signatures. HB47 does not.

HB184 adds new wording to Sec 276.013 of the election code which defines voter fraud more clearly and gives law enforcement the tools they need to go after violators

HB184 simply covers more detail and stitches up the existing problems in a more solid manner. This is largely due to the fact that HB184 was written by a team: from the AG’s office, to Rep. Goldman’s office, Governor’s office, Sen. Hancock’s office and others. HB47 has 9 sponsors, while HB184 has 81 Authors and Co-Authors. 81!

HB184 is the better bill. The clock is running out.

 

 

Kaufman’s Costly and Illegal Scandal – Part 1

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Following the public pushback over red light cameras across Texas, camera companies, such as American Traffic Solutions (ATS), have turned their attention to counties, rather than cities. Shockingly, several counties engaged these firms in clear violation of state law.

The problem with ATS’s strategy was that the governments they sought to engage do not have the authority to issue civil penalties to enforce local ordinances. Cities are given that authority in the Local Government Code (LGC); that power does not extend to counties. Every civil citation issued to local residents by Kaufman County under the ATS contract was illegal. (LGC 54.012 & 54.044)

ATS targeted rural counties such as Kaufman, Smith, and Hays, appealing to money-hungry County Judges who would support traffic-camera contracts designed to help bolster their revenue. As is often the case in local government, they relied upon complicit District Attorneys and incompetent county lawyers to rubber stamp unlawful contracts.

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