Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer
On Saturday, December 9, at 10 a.m., JP James Metts held a so-called “Unity” rally where he announced he was running for Montgomery County Commissioner, a step up even though the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that Metts made multiple sexual advances on a Montgomery County employee inside his court office and then terminated her employment after she rebuffed having sex with him. Montgomery County taxpayers had to pay $45,000 to the former County employee in 2014 to cover up Metts’ wrongdoing. Now, Metts is in a sexual relationship with another County employee who is a direct-report to him in his JP court office.
Metts had tricked a number of local law enforcement people from East Montgomery County to attend the rally by telling them he was going to present plaques to them at the beginning of the rally to thank them for their service. At least two of those law enforcement leaders quickly moved off the stage before Metts turned the event into his political platform to announce his run for office against incumbent Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark, who has consistently supported the law enforcement community in his work as commissioner.
Only a handful of people showed up for Metts’ orchestrated event. One of those people who attended was Christian Collins, the Campaign Manager for United States Congressman Kevin Brady, who is also the Chairman of the United States House Ways and Means Committee. Collins signed a list of elected officials when he appeared at the event.
After the plaque presentations, County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport stood up before the small group of people and read off the list of names of elected officials “who are standing up in support of Judge Metts…Christian Collins on behalf of Congressman Kevin Brady!”
Collins was right there when Davenport read his and Brady’s names. Collins stood mute and did nothing to correct Davenport’s claim that the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee has endorsed Metts, who ought to resign from office for disgracing the Montgomery County government – and its taxpayers – rather than running for higher office.
Brady has also stood mute on this matter, although Collins tried to explain it away a few hours after the event had ended. Brady shouldn’t be too busy to make clear to the citizens of Montgomery County whom he represents in Congress that he doesn’t endorse Metts.
Collins, however, began to try to distance himself from the event.
Why was Collins even at an event for sexual harasser Metts?
Collins tried to explain why he was even at the Metts event: “I went to the meeting yesterday to find out what was going on in East Montgomery County. I want to learn,” Collins told The Golden Hammer. Collins claimed he would attend events for Clark or for the other candidate in the contested Republican Primary Election contest for Precinct 4 County Commissioner, Bob Bagley, who serves as an elected official on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery County Hospital District.
Collins’ explanation for appearing at the event doesn’t work. Neither Collins nor Brady have attended events for Clark’s campaign. Clark has had several events, including two major fundraisers recently where many elected officials and candidates for office attended. Bagley has also had several events at which neither Collins nor Brady have ever attended.
It’s important to note who was not at the Metts event yesterday: State Representative Cecil Bell, State Senator Brandon Creighton, Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull, and School Board President and candidate for County Treasurer Melanie Pryor Bush. Those individuals are elected officials who represent the geographic area or are running for office in the geographic area. This newspaper has confirmed that all of them knew about the event and neither attended nor sent word that they “supported” Metts.
Why didn’t Collins correct the situation right there?
Unless someone lives in a moral and political bubble, they’d know at this point that Metts’ sexual harassment was the subject of official written findings by the United States government agency that investigates such matters and that Montgomery County taxpayers paid dearly for Metts’ repeated wrongdoing. Unless someone lives in a moral and political bubble, they’d know that Metts is committing sexual misconduct right now by engaging in a sexual relationship with a direct-report County employee.
Congressman Kevin Brady, and not a spokesman behind whom he’s hiding, has some explaining to do. Does he condone sexual harassment? Does he endorse Metts or not? Why did Collins not correct the situation while the Metts event was going on? (I’ve seen that occur at other similar campaign events many times where elected officials and candidates asked to clarify that they were not endorsing someone while the reading of the names occurred.)
It’s disturbing enough that Collins would attend such an event. If County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport mis-stated why Brady’s and Collins’ names were on the list, where is Congressman Brady to correct the problem?
Brady is not a run-of-the-mill member of the House of Representatives. He’s in the top few spots within the House Republican leadership as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Brady appears regularly on national news and talk shows representing the Republicans in the House and on his Committee. Brady also happens to represent the good people of the 8th Congressional District.
Endorsing or appearing to endorse a sexual harasser is not a matter on which Brady – morally – should stay silent. Collins is a young man and may have made a series of stupid errors. (He seems to be a kindhearted young man, by the way.) Brady is an experienced political officeholder and should certainly know better.
Either Metts and Stephanne Davenport duped Collins and Brady in a series of tricks or a major House Republican leader has endorsed a sexual harasser who has cost taxpayers a lot of money. This situation is one where silence or attempts at historical revision don’t work, because it’s far too serious.
It does appear that Metts, Stephanne Davenport, and corrupt local political boss Marc Davenport deliberately duped Collins, Brady, and the people of Montgomery County with this event. If that’s, indeed, what happened Congressman Brady has a moral duty to clarify his position and not to let them off the hook.