The Woodlands, February 9 – Montgomery County Judge and criminal indictee Craig Doyal raised $63,673.50 primarily at a breakfast for The Woodlands “establishment,” the pro-developer crowd that naturally allies with the anti-resident Doyal. Doyal’s Campaign Finance Report, which he filed on February 5, 2018, 30 days before the March 6 Republican Primary where he faces pro-reform State Representative Mark Keough who is seeking to replace Doyal as County Judge.
On the morning of Wednesday, January 24, the Nelda and Jim Blair hosted a breakfast for Doyal to raise money for his criminal legal defense and campaign. Rob and Kim Marling joined the Blairs in hosting the event. The donors to Doyal’s criminal defense and campaign are the same group of individuals and business representatives who are generally anti-resident and anti-citizen.
The Marlings topped the donor list with a $17,000 contribution to the embattled County Judge and criminal defendant Doyal. Realtor Vicki Richmond and Larry Johnson of Houston each contributed $5,000, while David Smalley of The Woodlands contributed $7,500
Other scions of the “establishment” who contributed to Doyal were: real estate investor and beer distributor Henry Brooks, $1,000, billboards owner John Hagerman, $1,000, Woodlands Attorney Joe Michels, $1,000, former Tax Assessor-Collector J.R. Moore, $250, special districts and municipal utility taxation attorney Michael Page, $1,000, Woodlands attorney and Montgomery Central Appraisal District Board member Bruce Tough, $1,000, Woodlands Development Company Co-CEO Tim Welbes, $1,000, and Johnson Development regional director and former Woodlands Development Company executive Virgil Yoakum, $1,000.
More than two-thirds of Doyal’s raised contributions have gone towards his criminal legal defense. A Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted Doyal, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, and local political boss Marc Davenport for conspiring to circumvent the open meetings requirements of the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”) under Section 551.143 of the Texas Government Code. Doyal, Riley, and Davenport claimed that they could not understand the provisions of the TOMA and that it violated their constitutional right to free political speech.
On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, the Ninth Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion overturning the dismissal of the criminal indictments of Doyal and his two criminal co-defendants, Riley and Davenport. In an opinion, which Chief Justice Steve McKeithen wrote, the Court of Appeals ruled that any ordinary person would be able to understand the prohibitions of TOMA, even if Doyal, Riley, and Davenport have pretended an inability to understand the statute. The Court of Appeals also rules that the citizens of the State of Texas have a strong constitutional interest in governmental transparency and openness, so that the prohibition of TOMA against secret meetings is constitutionally reasonable.
Doyal’s attorney Rusty Hardin, who lost the appeal on behalf of Doyal, has indicated that Doyal will appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. It’s unlikely that the Court of Criminal Appeals will hear the case, so, eventually Doyal, Riley, and Davenport will have to face a Montgomery County Jury in the 221st District Court in Conroe.
Meanwhile, Doyal and Riley remain on the Republican Primary Election ballot. Davenport’s wife, Stephanne Davenport, who faces numerous challenges as Montgomery County Treasurer, including her profound lack of qualifications for the job, who has thrown herself into political hot water over several issues relating to the operation of her office, also faces a strong opponent in the Primary, Conroe Independent School District Board President Melanie Pryor Bush, who hails from a strong accounting background, has multiple college degrees, and owns her own bookkeeping and accounting firm.