Image: Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley and Gary Louie.
Magnolia, February 28 – Charlie Riley may be a nice guy, but he’s no conservative nor is he someone who gets the job of Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner done. Roads in Precinct 2 are a mess. Riley promised to widen F.M. 2978 before the end of his term. Never happened. Riley assured voters that he’d get F.M. 1488 widened from the Waller County line to Mostyn Manor. Never happened. Riley assured the citizens of Precinct 2 that he’d get the Precinct 2 road bond projects completed within two years of the road bond referendum. After two years, he’d only started one of the projects.
At the same time, Riley loves to call himself a conservative. Of course, the word “conservative” gets thrown around a lot. If the definition of “conservative” is the Senator Barry Goldwater traditional definition – “someone who supports reduced government spending” – then Charlie Riley is the opposite of a conservative.
Riley has one of the worst voting records on the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. For Fiscal Year 2018, Riley’s voting record draws an 85 point rating out of 1,643 total possible points. That’s an F so low that Riley would almost be better not showing up for Commissioners Court meetings. The rating system springs directly from the Republican Party Platform.
Riley and his wife, for whom he arranged a County government job in late 2016, filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2002 and never paid most of their debts at the time. That’s not a conservative lifestyle at all. Now admittedly, that was 16 years ago. Riley has been on the public dole every since. Perhaps, he learned from his mistakes. No, actually, Riley didn’t learn. As The Golden Hammer reported on September 17, 2017, Riley still owed money on state tax liens that were several years old. Riley doesn’t handle his personal finances very well just as he’s made a mess of the finances of the Precinct 2 County Commissioners office as well.
Here’s what Riley is known for as a County Commissioner:
- He supports construction of a $73 million 3.6 mile Tx-249 toll road section also known as the “Decimation of Hope Highway” because it takes tax dollars away from those who need them most, the hardworking women and men who slave to pay taxes to give Riley and his wife their government paychecks and to allow Riley to funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into the hands of mostly outside-of-Montgomery County engineers and road contractors who enjoy Montgomery County citizens’ money immensely, and transfer a hefty portion to Riley back as political contributions. Why would Riley support this crazy project that will constitute one of the most expensive highways ever constructed in American history if built? He says that it will be a money-maker for the County government. Of course, there’s a big risk that, like most other toll roads, they just don’t make much money at all. Remember, Riley has already voted to spend $12.1 million of County general funds for the Decimation of Hope Highway.
- Riley still supports construction of the Woodlands Parkway Extension, as he made clear during a debate on January 23, 2018, because developers want it. The voters in Commissioners Precinct 2 rejected the Woodlands Parkway Extension as did voters in The Woodlands.
- Riley consistently votes to fund the Montgomery County Airport, which is far away from his Commissioners Precinct. The Airport is a sinkhole for County tax dollars that simply has never provided any economic justification other than as a monument to Riley’s pal Meador.
- Riley has consistently supported and voted for County spending Budgets that greatly exceed the rate of population growth and inflation. This year’s Budget is $54 million more than what it should be since 2010 when Republican Primary Election voters told County leaders to use that rate as a ceiling for spending. Riley and other County leaders ignored the demands of 93% of the Republican voters in that election.
- Riley is one of three criminal defendants who got the Texas Open Meetings Act declared unconstitutional, because, Riley argued, it violated his rights of free speech by requiring him to conduct his political business in the “open meetings” required under Texas law. Now, Riley thinks he can do his business dealing to spend government money behind closed doors, except for the fact that the Beaumont Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s crazed ruling and reinstated the criminal indictment against Riley.
- Riley called Commissioner Jim Clark and rebuked him on the telephone after the first Commissioners Court meeting where Clark dared to vote against the Decimation of Hope Highway.
- Riley gave himself a huge pay raise in this Fiscal Year, even though the Salary Study Committee, which he helped to appoint, recommended against any pay raises, because Riley’s salary was already much higher than almost every other county commissioner in Texas.
- Riley made a motion to create a new position in the Precinct 5 Constable’s Office, after it became apparent his wife Deanne was not going to be working for the Sheriff’s Department after Sheriff Rand Henderson came into office. The following month, Riley placed on the agenda to give his wife the new position he created, also famously known as “the Riley 2-Step.”
- Riley has consistently condoned County Judge Craig Doyal’s concentration of his political power by taking management of the County government away from the Commissioners Court and giving it to Doyal.
- Riley first voted against the 20% homestead exemption from property taxes. Then 4 weeks later, sensing the direction of the political wind, he voted for it. Riley had the same information for both votes, because Tax Assessor-Collector Tammy McRae had provided the information projecting tax collections before the first vote.
- Riley tried to put two of his best friends on the County Ethics Committee. Only by the courage of County Attorney J.D. Lambright did doing the right thing prevail.
- On February 14, 2017, Riley tried to scare people into believing that County government spending cuts would require cuts in the law enforcement budget, when, in fact, the Citizens Budget Committee and the County GOP Executive Committee both called for a $100 million spending reduction in non-law enforcement departments with a $40 million spending increase to put more “boots on the ground” for law enforcement and to build a capital fund for the County.
- If you’re upset about the Montgomery Central Appraisal District’s reappraisal of your home, then look to Riley, who was a Board member of the MCAD for two years until December 31, 2017, and who was responsible for setting their reappraisal policy under the provisions of the Texas Tax Code.
- Riley has consistently rejected the concept of “zero-based budgeting” and supported the concept of starting with current spending levels as a base for future budgets.
- Riley was at the epicenter of the Goetz-Gate scandal concerning the use of County property, equipment, and personnel to work on people’s political campaigns.
- Riley has voted for more than 99.9999% of all spending proposals put before the County government. That’s not an exaggeration. Have spending proposal? You’ve got Charlie’s vote.
- Riley voted in favor of transgender adoptions – twice – during the November 14, 2017, Commissioners Court meeting.
With that terrible voting record, how is Charlie getting all of those endorsements? Let’s look at his endorsements.
What got Charlie elected in the 2014 Republican Runoff Election was the endorsement of the Texas Conservative Tea Party Coalition, a “fake tea party” group created to confuse voters. The Southwest Montgomery County Tea Party has endorsed Riley in this election. That’s also a fake group consisting of two members – Michael Bryant and Dwight Arnold. Arnold doesn’t live in Montgomery County and has consistently supported big government spending for at least 25 years.
Riley paid $12,000 to Conservative Republicans of Texas to endorse him in a “Pay to Play” scheme. Those leaflets are the ones Riley’s supporters are handing out at the polls.
If voters simply want a nice guy to be their County Commissioner, Riley doesn’t have a monopoly on nicety. Both of his opponents, Gregory Parker and Brian Dawson, are nice. If voters want a strong Christian for their County Commissioner, Riley doesn’t have a monopoly on Christianity either. Both of his opponents, Gregory Parker and Brian Dawson, are active Christians.
If voters want a conservative to be their County Commissioner, what is clear is that Riley is not the choice.