Image: Charlie Riley Band members loading the band’s musical equipment into the Magnolia Independent School District Administration Building around 8:45 p.m., Saturday, October 14, 2017, while using a taxpayer-funded, publicly-owned MISD white transport truck to haul the equipment. The brown pickup truck to the left appears to be MISD Superintendent Todd Stephens’ truck.
Magnolia, October 15 – Montgomery County Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley used government property – again – for his campaign kickoff event at Magnolia’s Unity Park on Saturday, October 14, 2017, but this time there was a twist to it. Instead of using Montgomery County property, he used a Magnolia Independent School District truck, numbered 5183, while MISD Superintendent Todd Stephens helped Riley load Charlie Riley Band musical equipment into and out of the truck for the political campaign event.
They got caught red-handed using MISD vehicles and storing private property at the MISD Administration Building.
At approximately 2 p.m., conservative political activists Ginger Russell, a Republican Precinct Chair from Magnolia, and Kelli Cook of Montgomery, noticed men unloading musical equipment from the MISD truck at the stage area of Unity Park in Magnolia where Riley held his political event. The white MISD truck and Superintendent Stephens’ brown truck then proceeded back to the MISD Administration Building where, around 2:30 p.m., they parked the MISD truck in front of the building.
At that point, the MISD truck driver got into Stephens’ truck and headed back to Unity Park where the Charlie Riley Band, or portions of it, rehearsed some musical numbers before Riley’s political event was to begin at 4 p.m. At 4 p.m., the four men, including Stephens, proceeded back to the MISD Administration Building where they stayed until approximately 5:30 p.m. when the returned to the Riley political event to perform musical numbers for the sparse audience.
Sure enough, around 8 p.m., the white MISD van returned to Unity Park. The men loaded the truck with the Charlie Riley Band’s musical equipment, drove the truck back to the Administration Building, and then unloaded the musical equipment for the private band into the Administration Building!
Clearly, Riley, a public official with the County government, and Stephens, the Superintendent of MISD, are using taxpayer-owned equipment, the MISD truck, to transport the Charlie Riley Band musical equipment, which they store, at public expense at the MISD Administration Building!
Russell, who, along with Cook, took the photograph and video footage of the nefarious activities of Riley, Stephens, and others, issued the following statement around 11:44 p.m. on Saturday, October 14, 2017:
“The political Magnolia fiefdom and their corruption is at at all time high. Those in power within Magnolia proper have gotten away with taxpayer abuse for so long and have no fear of being held accountable. I ask that the taxpayers speak up and demand our Montgomery District Attorney, Brett Ligon, stop this abuse and hold our county officials accountable. It is past time for this abuse to end.”
As readers of The Golden Hammer should know, this abuse of power is not Riley’s first foray into that territory.
Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley have abused County government power by using the Commissioner Precinct 2 gated barnyard as a storage facility for their personal property including their barbecue trailers. A Precinct 2 County employee, who has requested anonymity, told The Golden Hammer that “Riley and Doyal have stored those trailers there as long as I can remember” and at least since 2013 (when Doyal was the Precinct 2 County Commissioner and Riley his Operations Manager).
Three employees within the Montgomery County Auditor’s Office have confirmed that Riley and Doyal do not reimburse Montgomery County for use of the gated, locked, and barb-wired storage area for the trailers and barbecue cookers and related equipment, which the two elected officials own personally. Riley and Doyal use the trailers and cookers during elections to drive to voting areas to feed voters and poll workers. Riley has used his trailer and barbecue cooker for other events as well.
Magnolia area Republican Precinct Chair, Ginger Russell said, “I have 3 trailers I would love to store there. How do I get on that program? I think it is wrong and an abuse of power for elected officials to use county property for their benefit and personal use. I am well aware of the cost of storing trailers.” This newspaper conducted a survey of storage lots within five miles of the Precinct 2 barnyard and learned that the cost of storage of such vehicles is approximately $40 to $50 per month.
Section 39.02 of the Texas Penal Code provides “A public servant commits an offense if, with intent to obtain a benefit…he intentionally or knowingly misuses government property, services, personnel, or any thing of value belonging to the government that has come into the public servant’s custody or possession by virtue of the public servant’s office or employment.”
In addition to storage of the trailers and equipment, Doyal and Riley enjoy free maintenance services from Precinct 2 employees who maintain the trailers for the two elected officials. Additionally, three employees inside of Precinct 2 noted, under condition of anonymity, that Doyal’s daughter regularly receives automotive maintenance services on her motor vehicle inside of the Precinct 2 barn. Doyal’s daughter is an employee of Montgomery County whom County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport hired and sought, unsuccessfully, to promote to the position of Assistant County Treasurer earlier this year.