Image: Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley on stage with his “Charlie Riley Band” on October 14, 2017, when he announced to the world on video that he and Magnolia Independent School District Superintendent Todd Stephens let Riley use the services of Magnolia ISD maintenance workers to load and unload their band equipment and transport it.
Magnolia, October 16 – Could you imagine former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from the White House in disgrace as a result of the Watergate break-in scandal, making the following introduction on national television:
“I’d like to introduce a few guys who helped us break in to the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate and also into Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office because they’re the ‘plumbers,’ the guys we use to plug up the leaks that hurt our administration. I’d like to thank the Central Intelligence Agency that gave us or let us borrow this couple of guys to help us out, but here’s G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt! They’re our plumbers!”
Of course, that never happened, because President Nixon was too smart to admit direct wrongdoing on national television, although he did make some pretty bad admissions on tape recordings that he arrogantly set up in the White House’s Oval Office.
Welcome to Montgomery County, Texas, only 43 years later, where corruption is so prevalent that members of the Commissioners Court are more than willing to make the type of announcement that Nixon would never have dreamed of doing.
On October 14, 2017, as he introduced members of the “Charlie Riley Band” standing among the band’s privately-owned equipment to the sparse crowd during Riley’s campaign kickoff, a political event, and standing in the Unity Park Pavilion, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley of Montgomery County announced,
“We ended up trying to get to places where we had to have some help, so Dr. Todd Stephens [Magnolia ISD Superintendent] gave us or let us borrow a couple guys from Magnolia ISD…maintenance guys who help us load this equipment, and move it around from place to place…and one of them’s missing, but we’ve got Mr. Louis Bennett. He’s our roady!”
Riley openly admitted that, for personal and political campaign purposes, Riley and Stephens use Magnolia Independent School District maintenance workers to help them load, unload, transport, and store their equipment. As photographs published yesterday in this newspaper revealed, Riley and Stephens store the private band’s equipment in the Magnolia ISD Administration Building and utilize school district vehicles to transport the equipment.
Here’s what is now known about Riley:
- On March 12, 2012, Riley terminated Commissioners Precinct 2 employee Melissa Goetz for taking County computers, printers, equipment, and supplies home with her to work on then County Commissioner Craig Doyal’s political campaign. Riley was the Precinct 2 Operations Manager at the time.
- For the past several years, Riley and Doyal have stored their barbecue trailers they use during political campaigns on County property in the Precinct 2 Commissioners barnyard in Magnolia behind a locked and gated fence. Riley and Doyal have not paid the County anything for the use of that storage space.
- Riley and Doyal had the Building Maintenance Department install plumbing and electrical connections at the Precinct 2 barnyard so they could cook there for their political campaigns.
- On September 14, 2017, Riley admitted in writing, “As far as the County yard storing my personal cooking trailer, that is correct.”
- On October 13, 2017, Riley, his wife Deanne who is a County employee in the position Riley established for her, and several County employees spent a large portion of the County work day making preparations for his political campaign kickoff the next day.
- On October 14, 2017, Riley, Stephens, and at least two Magnolia ISD maintenance workers loaded a Magnolia ISD truck at the Magnolia ISD Administration Building with Riley’s personal band equipment stored at the Administration Building for free. The school district employees then transported the equipment to the site of Riley’s political campaign kickoff, unloaded the equipment, participated in Riley’s campaign presentation, loaded the equipment back onto the school district truck, transported it back to the Administration Building, and unloaded the equipment with Riley and Stephens there to help with the unloading and re-storage of the equipment.
- On October 14, 2017, Riley utilized some County-owned electrical carts as a “train” to carry passengers attending Riley’s campaign kickoff from where they parked to the site of the event. On October 15, 2017, the carts were back in the Commissioners Precinct 2 barnyard behind the locked and gated fence.
Liberty County Commissioner Mike McCarty was convicted of misuse of his public office and removed from office in April, 2017, for his use of Liberty County workers for private and campaign events.
Magnolia Republican Precinct Chair Ginger Russell told The Golden Hammer, “I don’t understand why the District Attorney hasn’t shut Mr. Riley down a while ago. We all supported Brett Ligon for District Attorney, because he promised he’d bring ‘public integrity’ to Montgomery County. He’s a tough prosecutor, so why is he letting a public official who admits to wrongdoing walk free?”
Montgomery County Coordinator for Campaign for Liberty Kelli Cook added, “I hope that our District Attorney doesn’t selectly enforce the law. He threw the book at Judge Seiler. His office needs to treat Charlie Riley the same. I think that Commissioner Riley is counting on Ligon to shield him from the voters.”
The serious question that citizens must raise is why is Riley, who is already under indictment for allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act, getting a free ride for these blatant abuses?