Image: Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts openly drew a line in the sand when he declared his disappointment that he was no longer confident that Republican Party Vice Chairman Reagan Reed “would be unethical in anything to come before him on the [ethics] committee.”
Conroe, June 26 – Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts declared war against ethics in the Montgomery County government at the Tuesday, June 25, 2019, Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting, as he explained why he sought to remove 22-year-old Montgomery County Republican Party Vice Chairman Reagan Reed as a member of the County government’s “ethics committee.” The Commissioners Court, as expected, voted three to two to remove Reed from the so-called “ethics committee.” Metts and his allies in corruption, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador, voted against Reed, while Precinct 3 Montgomery County Commissioner James Noack and Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough voted against removing Reed from the committee.
Metts explained, “Obviously, people on both sides of the aisle are going to be disappointed today. Some were disappointed when I made the motion to put Reagan Reed on there, on the ethics committee. I did that because, I made the motion to put him on there, because I believed I had confidence in him that he would make good decisions and he would be unethical in anything to come before him on the committee. I no longer have that confidence.”
“Obviously, people on both sides of the aisle are going to be disappointed today. Some were disappointed when I made the motion to put Reagan Reed on there, on the ethics committee. I did that because, I made the motion to put him on there, because I believed I had confidence in him that he would make good decisions and he would be unethical in anything to come before him on the committee. I no longer have that confidence.” – Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, speaking during the Montgomery County Commissioners Court regular meeting (emphasis added).
Metts made the most direct stand against ethics in the Montgomery County government ever. Nevertheless, his candid stand in favor of unethical governance reveals one of the major reasons Montgomery County has the reputation across Texas as “the most corrupt County government in Texas.”
Reed has a strong reputation as a conservative leader for his impeccable ethics and unimpeachable integrity. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, the “People’s Judge,” nominated Reed for the “ethics committee.” Metts had been the deciding third vote in favor of appointing Reed to the committee, because Riley and Meador voted against Reed, as they had clearly already formed an opinion that Reed would not vote unethically.
Almost three dozen citizens spoke on Metts’ resolution before the Commissioners Court. Almost all of the speakers spoke in favor of Reed and against Metts’ action to remove Reed from the “ethics committee.” Approximately half a dozen individuals spoke against Reed and all made their comments as an excuse to express their dislike of his conservative principles. and Reed’s actions as GOP Vice Chairman to disperse Republican Party authority among citizen activists rather than a small group of “establishment” leaders who have dictated the Republican Party’s direction until June, 2018.
Metts’ specific complaint against Reed was Reed’s writing of a blogpost in “Texas Scorecard,” the blog of Empower Texans, which employs Reed as a correspondent. The article concerned Metts’ close political ally Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden, who along with Chief Deputy Barry Welch and three other Deputy Constables, face suspensions of up to six months by the Texas Commissioner on Law Enforcement for allegedly submitting false continuing education records to the state agency claiming they had completed course work when they had not.
Metts added the item to the Commissioners Court agenda after a family of felons, convicted for defrauding Hurricane Katrina victims and imprisoned in federal prison, began to complain about Reed’s critical remarks about Constable Hayden. Hayden was among the law enforcement officers who helped to place the family’s children in foster care after neighbors found the children living in a school bus in East Montgomery County. The family of felons has been major supporters of Metts and Hayden politically as have a number of other individuals with criminal conviction records.
Hayden and the deputies are currently appealing the suspension and are also seeking to reduce the length of the suspension. Welch attended the Commissioners Court meeting and appeared somewhat agitated during the proceedings. Hayden did not attend.
The ethics committee, established in January 2017 so that the County government could continue to receive state funds from the Texas Department of Transportation, has no enforcement power whatsoever. While the County government adopted a so-called “Code of Ethics,” that set of vague rules has never been the subject of any complaint. Hayden’s and the deputies’ alleged misconduct would not fall under any provision of the County’s ethics code.
The ethics committee has never met. The County government has never attempted to enforce the Code of Ethics. Very clearly, Metts’, Riley’s, and Meador’s vote to remove Reed from the committee was nothing other than their taking a strong political stand against ethics in government.
Before the Commissioners Court vote, Reed commented, “I am being removed from the ethics committee for speaking about the unethical behavior of an elected official.”
Interesting, at one point during the citizen comments, Republican Precinct Chairman David Smith mentioned the real reason for the Commissioners seeking to remove Reed was “corruption.” Immediately upon Smith beginning to discuss “corruption,” Metts bolded from the Commissioners Courtroom to return about three minutes later.