Conroe, February 28 – Montgomery County has made a strong impression this week as the “most corrupt county in Texas.” It’s been a triumphant week for the Davenport Ring, the group of corrupt politicians who take their direction from corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport.
The original members of the Davenport Ring were Marc Davenport himself, his wife and former County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, Precinct 4 County Commissioner James Metts (who previously was the Precinct 4 JP), Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden, Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Wayne Mack, Sheriff Rand Henderson, and Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace (then candidate) Jason Dunn.
Dunn quickly got rid of Davenport as his consultant. Hayden and Henderson claim to have gotten rid of Davenport as well. It’s unclear whether Mack continues to take direction from Davenport, although Davenport doesn’t appear publicly with Mack any longer. Doyal and Riley each paid Davenport $5,000 to represent them in the November 2015 road bond negotiations which resulted in the indictment of all three of them for alleged violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”). Metts used Davenport as his campaign manager until very late in Metts’ campaign for County Commissioner. Davenport had managed Riley’s first campaign for County Commissioner in 2014. Davenport managed his wife’s re-election campaign for County Treasurer which she lost by a 2 to 1 margin to challenger Melanie Pryor Bush in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.
The bright light of the full moon began to shine, however, on the Davenport Ring two days ago during the Tuesday, February 26 Commissioners Court meeting. Rather than appoint any citizen from Commissioners Precinct 4 which he represents, Commissioner Metts appointed Stephanne Davenport to the Airport Advisory Board. Loyal foot soldier Riley and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador, who consistently supports elitism and corruption, voted with them to confirm the disgraced County Treasurer on the Airport Advisory Board. Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough bravely voted “no” while Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack abstained.
Yesterday, February 27, brought a gigantic win to Marc Davenport, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that TOMA’s section 551.143, under which a Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted Davenport, Doyal, and Riley, is unconstitutionally vague. The result is that the Court of Criminal Appeals will dismiss Davenport’s indictment. (This newspaper has always taken the position that the indictment of Davenport, who was not a member of the Commissioners Court, was a bit of a legal stretch.)
Nevertheless, the ultimate impact of the action by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is far more expansive than merely dismissing Davenport’s criminal case. The Court of Criminal Appeals rendered unenforceable a critical enforcement provision of TOMA. In the future, as matters currently stand, members of governmental bodies in Texas seem to be able to meet in numbers less than a quorum in secret meetings, even if the purpose of the meeting is to circumvent the open meeting requirement which weakly remains a part of Texas law.
Here’s an example. With a five-member Commissioners Court, very clearly three (3) members could not meet together to discuss government matters unless there has been a proper posting for a meeting and unless the meeting occurs in the open. Since the “walking quorum” provision of TOMA is no longer enforceable, it would be very easy for the Commissioners Court to circumvent the TOMA statute. If the members of the Commissioners Court wanted to vote to rename Montgomery County as “Doyal County,” Metts and Riley could meet secretly and agree on the action. Then Riley could meet with Meador to procure his agreement on the action. Then, in an open meeting properly posted under the remaining provisions of TOMA, Metts, Riley, and Meador would have already deliberated and determined that they would rename Montgomery County after Riley’s brain master.
As Davenport previously told this newspaper, “With TOMA out of the way, we can finally get some business done.”
More than ever, it’s time for corruption to shine as never previously in the most corrupt County in Texas, Montgomery County.