Tarrant County Commissioner Roy Brooks was recently sanctioned by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). The TEC stated in their Order and Agreed Resolution that they found “credible evidence of a violation of Section 255.003, Election Code.” They went on to state that Commissioner Brooks used “public funds for political advertising.”
The spotlight is on Kimberly Fitzpatrick, candidate for District Judge, once again, for violating the law. This time it is for illegally accepting $2,000 in campaign contributions from a corporation.
Last month Direct Action Texas filed a complaint on Fitzpatrick with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct concerning an illegal endorsement. We also filed a complaint on Probate Court Judge candidate Catherine Goodman, this time with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). Our complaint was affirmed, Goodman took an improper donation of $10,000 from a husband and wife. Then, just yesterday, we called attention to Patricia Cole, candidate for Probate Court Judge, for her reporting of a campaign contribution from a corporation. Now we have found that Kimberly Fitzpatrick has violated Texas Election Code 253.091 as well.
On her May 15 filing, Fitzpatrick lists an in-kind Contribution of $2,000 from Chamas Do Brazil, otherwise known as HLQ, Inc., a corporation. Section 253.094 of the Election Code lists this offense as a third-degree felony. Punishment for a felony of this type is 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Former Mayor and Attorney Kimberly Fitzpatrick did not know the law or ignored it. Either way, is this someone that should be the next Tarrant County District Court Judge for District 342? The District 342 Court handles civil cases with judgements that can reach up into the millions and higher. The judge for that court must be someone with integrity and an attention to detail, not someone who has come under legal scrutiny twice during her campaign.
We must hold our judges and judicial candidates to a higher standard. We must know that our judges have the utmost integrity and would not violate the law for financial gain, to win an election, or for any other reason. We must also know that our judges are knowledgeable. There is no room for error when people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. Tarrant County deserves judges that take the time to study the law and not make potentially criminal mistakes. Tarrant County has a chance to choose on May 22nd. Choose wisely.
“All free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services”. – Texas Constitution Article 1, Section 3.
Are we all equal or do different citizens enjoy special privileges and benefits? Our Constitution tells us that we are equal, but are we? Here is a story about how one person, an elected official, gets special privileges above and beyond the normal citizens and blatantly and obscenely abuses her power. To make things worse, this person is a sitting Judge in Tarrant County.
Judge Jacquelyn Wright, one of Tarrant County’s Justices of the Peace, is actively campaigning from her courtroom, which is a clear violation of ethics. She has campaign literature in her courtroom as well as inside her jury room. We have pictures of the flyers and nail files with her messaging (See them HERE, HERE, and HERE.), but there is no telling what she is saying from the bench.
As a taxpayer, YOU are paying for her campaign by paying for the facilities to distribute her materials. It is wholly improper for government buildings to be used to assist a campaign. Imagine walking up to a courthouse and seeing a big banner with the Judge’s name on it right as you go to vote, having county employees make campaign calls during work hours, or even using tax dollars to pay the postage for campaign mailers. It is a slippery slope when we allow government employees to engage in political activity.
How many times have you heard concerns of voter fraud be dismissed by politicians, media pundits, or the Democrat Party of Texas?
In 2012, the Donna ISD school board president hung himself after the FBI pressed for an indictment on grounds that he stole his election using fraud.
In 2015, six people were convicted of felony voter fraud in Hildalgo County, Texas for harvesting mail in ballots fraudulently in several local elections.
In the 2016 Republican primary in Hill County, Texas, election officials claimed 9,038 ballots were cast, yet only 7,171 voters actually voted in that election. There were 1,800 votes counted with no voters to go with them, and on that very ballot three races were determined by less that 70 votes.
In 2017, Rosa Ortega (a legal resident) was convicted and sentenced to 8 years in Tarrant County, Texas after she illegally voted for 10 years, although she is not a citizen of the US. The very same year, an Ellis County, Texas constable was removed from office and convicted for having stolen his election using fraud.
In 2018, Tarrant County convicted a felon of illegal voting after she intentionally voted after having been told, in writing, she was not eligible to do so. Just last week, a judge ordered a new election in Kaufman County, Texas after it was shown in court that fraudulent ballots were improperly counted. I could continue, the list is long – and these are just Texas.
The Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) has affirmed Direct Action Texas’ complaint against Catherine Goodman, former candidate for Tarrant County Probate Court 1. DAT filed the complaint when we noticed that Goodman had accepted $5,000 over the limit set by the Judicial Fairness Act from a married couple. (For the original article on the complaint click HERE.)
The married couple in question are Dyann and Jere McCully. Dyann McCully is an attorney and a partner at the Blum Firm. According to their website, they are “the largest estate planning firm in Texas and the largest boutique firm in the United States solely dedicated to estate planning.” McCully and her firm would certainly benefit from a friendly Probate Court Judge.
In her Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, Goodman admits to accepting the contributions, but “swore that she did not accept the contributions knowing they were in excess of the limits.” Goodman also claims that her first knowledge of the violation was DAT’s article. This may be true, but ignorance of the law is not a good habit for a lawyer, and especially not someone seeking to become a judge.
Goodman has allegedly returned the $5,000 contribution and the TEC will not assess a civil penalty. Goodman’s former opponents could still pursue civil damages, however.
Once again DAT has illustrated the importance of constant vigilance. The limitations of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act are well known but the TEC will not act unless someone files a complaint. Candidates as well as elected officials must be held accountable.