Conroe, February 28 – The Montgomery County Commissioners Court, under the “leadership” of County Judge Craig Doyal, continues to mock and ignore the so-called “Code of Ethics” which the Court approved on January 24, 2017. The Court took that action only because the Texas Department of Transportation set a February 7, 2017, deadline by which the state would discontinue any road grants to Montgomery County due to the County government’s absence of ethics. Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley, and Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Meador have funneled many tens of millions of dollars to their favored engineers and contractors who have provided them with political contributions and supported their legal defense (at least in the cases of Doyal and Riley).
Commissioners Court Agenda, Item 11A, refers to a proposed amendment to the Code of Ethics, but there is no amendment contained within the backup materials. As usual, the public and most of the members of the Commissioners Court are completely in the dark with respect to what Doyal, Lambright, and their cronies intend to do at an allegedly public meeting of the Commissioners Court.
At the February 14, 2017, meeting, the Commissioners Court unanimously appointed themselves to the board of directors of the Montgomery County Toll Road Authority (“MCTRA”), which has borrowed and continues to borrow millions of dollars from Montgomery County under nebulous terms for the construction of the Tx-249 3.6 mile “Decimation of Hope Highway” at the far southwest edge of Montgomery County. More than $11 million of funds have disappeared from County coffers for vendors who have contributed substantial funds to Doyal and Riley for their legal defense and for other political purposes.
Article VIII of the recently-approved Code of Ethics prohibits County employees from engaging in any outside activities which create a conflict of interest with their County duties. In the instance of the MCTRA, all five members of the Commissioners Court have fiduciary obligations directly both to the lender, the County, and the borrower, MCTRA in these multi-million dollar lending transactions. County Attorney Jerry Don Lambright has encouraged the Commissioners Court members not to concern themselves with that provision of the Code of Ethics.
Now, the public and members of the Commissioners Court have no notice of how Doyal and Lambright intend to amend the Code of Ethics at today’s Commissioners Court meeting. Lambright worked closely with Doyal and “chief of staff” jim fredricks to create the Agenda, so Lambright cannot claim that he was unaware of the wording of the agenda item.
Although Lambright’s staff attorneys did a good job in their initial draft of the Code of Ethics, particularly in light of the lack of interest in such a Code on the parts of County Judge Craig Doyal and Commissioner Meador, the true power centers on the Court, the Code of Ethics lacks genuine enforceability. Furthermore, a major violation of the Code of Ethics only three weeks after the Court approved it does not stand as a beacon of likely ethical conduct in the future.