Fighting for Transparency & Fiscal Responsibility in Local Government

DIRECT ACTION TEXAS FILES ELECTION COMPLAINT IN HARRISON COUNTY

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact Aaron Harris (682) 626-5679

aaron@directactiontx.com

3rd ELECTION COMPLAINT FILED WITH TEXAS SECRETARY OF STATE BY DIRECT ACTION TEXAS

Direct Action Texas finds election irregularities in Harrison County Texas – files complaint with the Texas Secretary of State

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TEXAS (January 31, 2017) — Yesterday Direct Action Texas (DAT) filed a formal complaint with the Texas Secretary of State’s elections division regarding voting irregularities in Harrison County, Texas (Marshall, Texas). In a limited review of mail in ballots from various elections over the last calendar year, DAT found at least 42 election code violations. It is clear from the evidence that, similar to Tarrant County, there appears to be an illegal, mail in ballot harvesting operation in Harrison County. DAT has compiled the evidence through a variety of sources, including documents obtained via Open Record Requests. We have submitted the evidence in our formal complaint filed yesterday.

Over the last year, Direct Action Texas has filed two previous election violation complaints, one in Tarrant County and one in Hill County. The Hill County complaint has resulted in the impoundment of the March 1, 2016 Republican Primary ballots and associated equipment as well as an unprecedented recount as part of an ongoing criminal investigation, which occurred on November 9, 2016. The Tarrant County complaint has resulted in what has been described as the largest voter fraud investigation in Texas, as acknowledged by the Governor, Attorney General, and several news outlets. Both cases are still currently under investigation.

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You can read more about the Tarrant County and Hill County cases at www.directactiontx.com

Another Example of Cronyism?

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A top-ranking county official in one of Texas most conservative counties is facing harsh criticism for attempting to use his political position for personal gain.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley recently pushed to improperly award a “no-bid” contract to a client of his government-accounting firm, Whitley-Penn.

During a November 8th, 2016 meeting of the Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court, Judge Whitley championed the idea of greater efficiency in county employee health care.

There was an urgent crisis and Whitley had the solution—pay $5,000 to a vendor, Integer Health Technologies, to study the county’s healthcare data. Then examine their findings and award Integer a $400,000-$500,000 annual contract.

The three County Commissioners present, along with several staffers, did not share Whitley’s enthusiasm for the deal.

Both Commissioners Johnson and Brooks were not pleased when It was later revealed that the initial cost rose by $12,000. Commissioner Brooks, a reliable ally of Whitley, stated, “I must admit that we’re not starting off real well going from a $5,000 expense to a $17,000 expense.”

Commissioner Nguyen firmly voiced concerns about fair bidding practices, as are required by state law.  Awarding Integer the initial contract without seeking alternative bids would give them an “unfair competitive advantage” over another vendor who could later bid for the same contract.

Whitley and Integer attempted to improperly use an exception to avoid competitive bidding by claiming the company was the “sole source” for this technology.  Sole source is a label applied to companies for which there is no competitor. But Integer is not the only company who offers this service.

Later in the meeting, Jack Beacham from the Purchasing Department expressed his desire to delay the deal and actually investigate Integer’s claims that they are sole-source. Whitley insisted this could be done after approving payment for the initial study.  According to Whitley, Integer would eventually be proven to be the only provider, so the county should just go ahead with the deal.

Whitley had clearly not done his own due diligence, as Integer’s sole-source claims were false.

A compelling motive for Whitley oversight was later revealed. Integer is a client of Whitley-Penn, the public accounting firm of which Whitley is a partner. This is the typical back room deal cronyism that plagues politics. Integer gives its business to Whitley-Penn, and then, Whitley turns around and gives Tarrant County’s business to Integer.

If it were not for the insistence of Commissioner Nguyen for the investigation into the sole-source claims, along with questions raised by other commissioners, the Integer deal would have sailed through. Without citizens engaged, many do.

It raises several important questions: What other conflicts of interest exist between Whitley and his accounting firm, considering his firm is one of the largest in the state? How many similar deals get pushed through city councils and school boards every week?

It is imperative that we watch each and every official we elect to office.  Choosing your candidate and voting is not enough. Citizens must hold their elected official accountable for each vote they cast.

The term “cronyism” is often used to describe back room dealing made between special interests and politicians in Washington D.C. or Austin.  Yet cronyism happens at all levels of government, especially at the local level.  For a recent example, look no further than Tarrant County.

Call to Action! JPS requires citizen input for proposed debt package.

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The John Peter Smith public hospital district, more commonly known as JPS, proposed an $809,000,000 bond package last year without much citizen input. Overwhelmingly, the majority of the money was going to be spent only on the downtown facility in Fort Worth, with more than half being spent on a new inpatient tower. Meanwhile, there was minimal benefit for the rest of the taxpayers in other parts of the county who would also bear the cost of this nearly billion-dollar project. However, the bond never made to the November ballot this year.  An active citizenry of concerned taxpayers raised questions and concerns about the direction and hidden costs of the bond, prompting the Commissioner’s Court to put it on hold.  It will now face a “Blue Ribbon Commission,” in an attempt to calm those opposing the bond.

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Election Code Loopholes Hurt Candidates: And Help Harvesters

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Imagine you are a candidate for office.  The votes are in and you are just 50 votes short of victory.  Your race was fiercely competitive and you suspect fraud in the results.  You requested a recount already, it came out with the same results.  If there is fraud, it must be in the mail-in ballots.  What do you do?

Contesting an election is costly and time consuming so a candidate needs all the information possible to determine if he or she should proceed.  One of the first things a candidate will want to see are the mail in ballots and applications.  (For reasoning behind this: The Fort Worth Way)  This sounds like a reasonable request, right?  Not so fast.  There are a few pieces of the Election Code blocking the way.

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Election Law In Texas Is Broken

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“If democracy stands for the principle of one person one vote then ballot harvesting stands for the principle one person one hundred votes” – Prosecutor at the Attorney General’s Office.

If you take a moment to talk to those in charge of prosecuting the election code, you’ll quickly find out just how broken the election code is, as well as how hard it is to criminally convict one who is guilty of election fraud and ballot harvesting. Reform is needed in order to stop those who would seek to undermine our elections and disrespect those who have marched, protested and, more importantly, died for our right to vote.

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