Campaign for Liberty Regional Chair Cook criticizes Riley for unethical campaign practices

Campaign for Liberty Regional Chair Cook criticizes Riley for unethical campaign practices

Image: Campaign for Liberty Gulf Coast Regional Chair Kelli Cook (left) appears with a physician friend.

Conroe, May 8 – Kelli Cook, the renowned policy wonk and Gulf Coast Regional Chair of Campaign for Liberty, criticized Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley for his unethical campaign practices. Specifically, Riley intentionally confuses his campaign advertising with his Precinct 2 Commissioner’s Office, which is a part of the County government.

Yesterday afternoon, Cook issued the following statement:

“The voters of Montgomery County are not being presented with fair elections and are finding it extremely frustrating.  It is practically impossible to remove incumbents from office once they sink in their claws, with the exception of the criminally indicted ones, like Judge Doyal, who just lost an election.
“Commissioner Riley is so disrespectful of fair elections that he listed his campaign headquarters at the same place he houses his secret campaign weapon, his barbecue trailer, at the precinct 2 office.  The incumbents have numerous advantages that the challengers do not.  They have access to school assemblies, school trucks to load and unload campaign equipment, including school personnel.  They can even film campaign commercials inside their county offices. They can store things used at the polls like barbecue trailers.  They are so bold as to use their current campaign office as a political t-shirt distribution center or phone banking locations.
“These abuses are not ethical nor do they fit with our idea of fair elections.  I hope the voters take notice and put a stop to this when Early Voting begins on May 14th, the first chance you have to bust up these good ole boy tactics that have gone on far too long.  That’s when voting starts for the May 22 Republican Runoff Election. Cheaters should never win!”
 This occasion isn’t the first when Riley’s intentional confusion between his political campaign and his County office has gotten him into hot water. Earlier this year, the County’s largest law enforcement association, the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Association, determined not to endorse Riley when they discovered that Riley listed his County email address as the contact on his campaign website. Riley continue to engage in that unethical and illegal practice.
Screen shot of Riley’s campaign website home page where he lists his County government office address and telephone number as his contact.

Apparently, desperate times call for desperate measures. It does appear that ethical bounds have little to do with Charlie Riley’s campaign conduct.

Conservative Republican activist Ginger Russell of Magnolia and Kelli Cook have conducted an extensive investigation, as private citizens, into Riley’s and Doyal’s practices. The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, began an investigation into the corruption in Commissioner’s Precinct 2 since this last spring when this newspaper uncovered the scandal involving Melissa Goetz, a former Precinct 2 employee whom Riley terminated on March 13, 2012, when Riley was then-Commissioner Doyal’s Operations Manager.

On April 17, 2012, former County employee Melissa Goetz sent a letter to then-Commissioner Craig Doyal that recounted that:

  • Under Doyal’s personal direction, Goetz regularly prepared his campaign reports at the Precinct 2 office.
  • Under Doyal’s personal direction, Goetz prepared political program ads during work hours at the Precinct 2 office.
  • Under Doyal’s personal direction, Goetz prepared and mailed political checks during work hours and worked on political fundraisers during for Doyal during work hours.
  • Other county employees in Precinct 2 worked on campaign activities and fundraisers for Doyal during work hours.
  • The Precinct 2 mechanics shop built platforms during work hours for Doyal’s political fundraisers.
  • Operations Manager Charlie Riley purchased food for Doyal’s political fundraisers during county business hours.
  • Doyal approved of the use of County materials, equipment, and time to work on his campaign.
  • Charlie Riley, Melissa Goetz’s immediate supervisor, instructed Goetz to “do what you need to do to get it [Doyal’s political campaign reports] finished” including taking a county printer to Goetz’s home.

On April 24, 2017, a Liberty County jury convicted Precinct 1 Liberty County Commissioner Mike McCarty for misuse of government personnel and misuse of government property when he got county employees to do chores on his private property with county equipment. A Liberty County District Court removed McCarty from office for “official misconduct” and imposed a six month jail sentence and two years probation.

Magnolia Independent School District Superintendent Todd Stephens and Riley have used the school district’s Administration Building to store the musical instruments and related equipment of the “Charlie Riley Band” for many years. They also use the Administration Building for practice sessions. Please see email above. Several emails, which Russell and Cook obtained over the past few days in an Open Records Act request to the school district have confirmed the nefarious practices of Stephens and Riley in that regard. The Golden Hammer conducted a survey of music studios available for lease and equipment storage. The going rate for storage of the equipment of the size of Riley’s band and for use of the storage facility for practice is between $600 and $1,200 per month. Riley and Stephens have been using the public facility in that manner for several years free-of-charge.

Neither Riley, Stephens, nor any one else has ever paid the school district for the storage or use of the school property. The storage and use of the Administration Building for those private and political purposes without any written agreement, indemnification, or insurance is a violation of the School District’s Policy Manual.

“What is particularly disturbing about the use of school district property, personnel, and funds for personal and political campaign purposes is that such property and tax dollars should go towards education of children, not the personal or political coffers of elitist politicians,” said Cook.

“What is particularly disturbing about the use of school district property, personnel, and funds for personal and political campaign purposes is that such property and tax dollars should go towards education of children, not the personal or political coffers of elitist politicians,” said Cook.

Other allegations against Doyal and Riley include:

  • 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.
  • Precinct 2 employees have confirmed that Riley and Doyal have had County employees provide automotive repairs and vehicle maintenance to members of Riley’s and Doyal’s families at no charge to them.
  • 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.

 

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