County Treasurer Davenport defies citizens, refuses to resign, refuses to explain what happened publicly

County Treasurer Davenport defies citizens, refuses to resign, refuses to explain what happened publicly

Image: Corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport (left) and Davenport supporter Dale Inman (right) of Conroe put up a Re-Elect Stephanne Davenport political sign together in early March, 2018. Davenport lost by a landslide with only 33.95% of the vote to 66.05% for her challenger Melanie Pryor Bush.

Conroe, March 24 – Failing Montgomery County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport has refused to resign from her job in the midst of the scandal involving her release of seventy-nine (79) County government employee names, dates of birth, and social security numbers. A group of citizens – Kelli Cook, Ginger Russell, Reagan Reed, Bill O’Sullivan, and Eric Yollick – demanded her resignation on March 22, 2018, by the close of business on March 23.

Davenport receives a County government salary of $135,782, plus County benefits of approximately $54,720.15, for total compensation of approximately $190,502.15.

Davenport refuses to answer public questions in a public hearing, won’t discuss the issue with the Montgomery County Commissioners Court publicly, and won’t explain why she released the private information, how she obtained the private information, or why the private information was in an office procedures manual at all.

Davenport lost re-election to her position as County Treasurer against challenger Melanie Pryor Bush in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election by a landslide margin. Davenport lost with only 33.95% of the vote to 66.05% for her challenger Melanie Pryor Bush.

Montgomery County Attorney J.D. Lambright had advised Davenport to release her policy and procedures manual with redactions of employee names, dates of birth, social security numbers, and other private information back in early December, 2017, after two citizens – Conroe ISD Board President Melanie Pryor Bush and Justin Pulliam – had requested the document. Davenport refused to release the document and even ordered Assistant County Attorney John McKinney to file suit against the Texas Attorney General to keep the document hidden from public view.

On December 19, 2017, Davenport also requested the Commissioners Court to come to her aid by declaring her policy manual a “trade secret” and “proprietary information.” In fact, after the Attorney General ordered Davenport to release the document, it turns out that a majority of the approximately 700 pages of Davenport’s manual are actually just pages from public documents that were backup material published as part of earlier Commissioners Court agendas. For example, Davenport claimed that a County Investment Policy was a “trade secret” even though it had been published on the Internet as part of the backup material in 2016 when the County Commissioners Court voted to adopt the policy.

Davenport had earlier claimed that the procedure and policy manual “contained step by step instructions on how to manipulate  the county finance system.” Former County Treasurer Martha Gustavsen responded that manipulation of the county finance system is not a job duty of the County Treasurer.

In reality, the procedures manual was a bunch of junk. A supermajority of the pages were copies of policies the Commissioners Court had previously passed in open Commissioners Court meetings. It’s very clear that the real reason Davenport held the manual back so that voters could not see it before the March 6 Republican Primary Election was that there is nothing of substance contained within her entire 800 page manual.

On Thursday, March 1, 2018, Paxton ordered Davenport to release the procedures manual to the public under the Texas Open Records Act but he also made clear that Davenport should redact personal information, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers from the document. Of course, it remains unclear why Davenport even included such information in a procedures manual of the County Treasurer’s Office. Davenport waited to release the procedures manual for one week until March 8, 2018.

Instead of following Attorney General Paxton’s direction to redact the personal information and release the remainder of the document to the public, Davenport released the document without redactions of the seventy-nine employees’ names, dates of birth, and social security numbers.

One of the names of a person (now deceased) whose name, date of birth, and social security number Davenport released along with the procedures manual was former County employee Marie Moore, a political opponent of Davenport and her husband, corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport. Moore never worked for the County Treasurer but was an employee of Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark. Therefore, there’s no reason Moore’s name or identifying information should have been in a procedures manual.

On the other hand, among the pages that Davenport claimed were top secret and should not be subject to public view were pages discussing how to recognize United States currency, including the following super secret information:

  • The $1 bill has a portrait of George Washington on it.
  • The $5 bill has a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on it.
  • “The value amount of each bill is numerically posted in all four corners on both sides.”
  • “The signature of the Treasurer of the United States appears on the bottom left of the face of the bill.”

Davenport also provided guidance to her County government employee staff, which includes County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter, with respect to the method of “counting coins.” Davenport divulged the following information when she released her procedures manual: “Seven kinds of U.S. coins are issued,” Davenport secretly confided in her office staff. A coin with a $0.01 value is named a “penny.” A coin with a $0.05 value is named a “nickel.” A coin with a $0.25 value is named a “Quarter.”

Lambright told this newspaper, “I hope we’ll discuss where does this situation leave us and the issues and concerns among the affected County employees. The County Commissioners Court needs to know the countless hours we’ve spent in the County Attorney’s Office going through the more than 700 page document, because the County Treasurer failed to redact names and other personal information in numerous places throughout the document.”

Lambright explained on Friday, March 16, that he was about to send notices to people whom the release of information has affected. The County Attorney told The Golden Hammer that there are seventy-nine (79) County employees whose full names, full dates of birth, and either full or partial social security numbers Davenport released to the world at large last week. Lambright acknowledged that at least one of those employees is deceased.

Davenport lost her re-election bid in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election to Bush. Davenport has not been back in her office for work since her Primary Election loss, other than approximately two hours on March 8 to release her procedures manual to the family of convicted felons who are her political supporters first and then to the general public.

The besieged Davenport is now conducting an investigation inside of her County Treasurer’s Office for the purpose of rooting out employees who dared to have communicated with The Golden Hammer, so that Davenport may terminate those employees for providing information to the public.

 

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