Image: Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts (right) with his mentor, corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport.
New Caney, January 25 – Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts has become the “poster child” of how Montgomery County corruption operates. His January 15, 2019, Campaign Finance Report reveals the fact that Metts’ true masters as an elected official are County vendors who contribute money to the members of the Commissioners Court.
Politicians usually are people who are insecure and weak. The massive salaries and lucrative benefits of government work now draw individuals who cannot succeed in the private sector on their own. There are exceptions to that rule, such as County Judge Mark Keough who has had a successful career in business and as a pastor and seeks to give back to his community. Nevertheless, the typical 21st century politician is the weak and unsuccessful person who seeks an easier path to wealth.
Metts barely beat incumbent County Commissioner Jim Clark in the Republican Runoff Election in 2018, because Clark suffered from cancer and was unable to mount an adequate campaign at the time. Metts had received almost no financial support from Montgomery County vendors, especially the engineers and contractors who regularly ply the members of the Commissioners Court with money, so they’ll receive lucrative government contracts on the backs of Montgomery County taxpayers.
Metts has a substantial reputation for corruption and unethical conduct, so County vendors and real estate developers shied away from him in the hope that Clark would be able to hold onto the seat. Metts beat Clark by a mere 173 vote margin.
That all changed after Metts won the Republican Runoff Election and ran unopposed in the General Election.
The money flowed and flowed.
Just one page of Metts’ Campaign Finance Report reveals how Montgomery County corruption works. On that page, shown directly above, are $8,200 contributions to the corrupt County Commissioner from four Montgomery County vendors:
- Costello’ engineers PAC, $2,500;
- Klotz Associates engineers, $2,500;
- Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, $2,500; and
- James Binkley of Binkley & Barfield engineers, $800.
All four of the foregoing are County government vendors who have never given money to Metts previously.
Most of the contributors to Metts had previously contributed to Clark. Apparently, buying the favor of a County Commissioner becomes a priority after he’s elected.
Metts’ largest contributors included:
- Blair Law Firm (County vendor), $2,500;
- Home-PAC Greater Houston Builders Association, $2,500;
- John Holzwarth (County vendor), $1,500.00;
- Costello engineers (County vendor), $2,500.00;
- Klutz Associates, Inc. (County vendor), engineers, $2,500.00;
- Larry Barfield engineer (County vendor), $900.00;
- William Kotlan engineer (County vendor), $500.00;
- Halff Associates engineers (County vendor and TX 249 Tollway project manager), $2,500.00;
- James Dannenbaum engineer (County vendor), $5,000.00;
- David Hamilton engineer (County vendor), $900.00;
- David Eastwood engineer (County vendor), $1,000.00;
- Jennie Taraborelli (County vendor), $5,000.00;
- Matt Whitney (County vendor), $3,000.oo;
- Don Buckalew (County vendor), $500.00.
Metts reported $58,500.00 in contributions only $18,500.00 of which came from citizens or firms in Montgomery County. In other words, 68.38% of Metts’ political contributions came from individuals or firms who are not even citizens or voters in Montgomery County.
The disgusting aspect of the flood of County vendor political contributions to Metts as soon as he won election as the Precinct 4 County Commissioner is that he has no incentive whatsoever to oversee or manage the costs of the contracts of those vendors as they procure lucrative government contracts at a massive cost to the citizens.
Obviously, these vendors have no public interest in contributing funds to Metts. Virtually none of his contributors reported in the January Campaign Finance Report had ever given Metts political contributions previously.
Clearly, the Montgomery County government is “for sale.” James Metts is the example of how citizen influence wanes as outside vendors take control.
The crush of this money particularly appeals to weak characters, such as Metts. Metts was always under the control of outsiders, such as corrupt political boss Marc Davenport and the Davenport Ring of corrupt politicians who follow Davenport’s direction. Now, the universe of those outsiders controlling Metts includes the County vendors who are showering him with money.
Metts is an individual who has little understanding of American or Texas government with little education. But look at the draw of a government position. With insider influence in government, Metts procured a multi-million dollar logging contract for the TX 249 Tollway. With insider influence in government, Metts now receives an annual salary of $174,000, plus approximately $75,000 per year in benefits along with that. With insider influence in government, Metts can now deliver lucrative jobs and benefits to his inner circle of friends and family without oversight from the Commissioners Court.
Is there a solution to this corruption? Clearly. The County government should enact a strict vendor policy that no vendor whose principals or affiliates made contributions to members of the Commissioners Court during the preceding 24 month period may receive an award of a County government contract.
What is the challenge in enacting such an ethics policy? The corrupt Metts will have a vote on the issue of whether such a policy should go into effect!
Metts did not return calls seeking comment.