Gaslighting Extraordinaire: The Golden Hammer presents 2022 “Mad Cow” Award to Montgomery County Judge Keough to begin Power Top Ten

Gaslighting Extraordinaire: The Golden Hammer presents 2022 “Mad Cow” Award to Montgomery County Judge Keough to begin Power Top Ten

Image: Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, the 2022 “Mad Cow” Award recipient for the worst elected official of the year.

The Golden Hammer Staff Reports and Associated Press

Conroe and The Woodlands, December 1 – The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, begins its Power Top Ten list of the most powerful people in Montgomery County, with the “Mad Cow” Award for 2022. The recipient, Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, isn’t particularly powerful but he easily is the worst elected official in this community (for a record second year).

The position of Montgomery County Judge has some institutional barriers, which hamper its effectiveness. Nevertheless, Montgomery County has had some recent County Judges, Alan B. Sadler and Craig Doyal as examples, who exercised effective leadership merely from the visibility of the position and their ability to engender respect.

Keough has displayed an opposite approach. Rather than engendering respect, Keough’s willingness to jawbone almost anything has resulted in a circumstance that business and political leaders do whatever it takes to avoid him and, instead, to work with other County government leaders to attempt to get things done.

Interestingly, the term “gaslighting,” which means behavior that’s mind manipulating, grossly misleading, and downright deceitful, is Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s “word of the year.”

Lookups for the word on increased 1,740% in 2022 over the previous year. But something else happened. There wasn’t a single event that drove significant spikes in curiosity, as it usually goes with the chosen word of the year.

The gaslighting in 2022 has been pervasive. Most of the pervasive gaslighting came from the mouths of government.

“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large.

“It was a word looked up frequently every single day of the year,” he said.

Merriam-Webster’s top definition for gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.” More broadly, the dictionary defines the word thusly: “The act or practice of grossly misleading someone especially for one’s own advantage.”

Gaslighting is a heinous tool frequently used by abusers in relationships — and by politicians and other newsmakers.

Keough uses gaslighting frequently. His colleagues on the Commissioners Court don’t buy most of what he says.

Two particular instances of “gaslighting” define Keough as an election official.

COVID shutdowns

On March 27, 2020, Keough became the only Republican local official in Texas who mandated a lockdown during the pandemic. Keough was the only official, Republican or Democrat, local or state, who mandated the shutdown of churches. Keough was the only local official in Texas who mandated a curfew during the pandemic, because county officials completely lack any such authority, and Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson refused to enforce Keough’s illegal shutdown orders and curfew.

In December, 2021, Keough, while running for re-election, told a meeting of the Greater Conroe Chamber of Commerce that he never issued a mandate or lockdown during the pandemic.

On January 10, 2022, Keough told a crowded audience that Montgomery Mayor Sara Countryman’s allegation that Keough lock down Montgomery County in March, 2020, was “nonsense.”

On January 31, 2022, Keough gaslighted the Montgomery County Republican Women by telling them he never shut down churches in his March 27, 2020, mandate, but he did admit he closed businesses.

Keough lied on many other occasions by telling voters that he never issued a mandate or lockdown during the pandemic.

Keough easily won re-election. Gaslighting works!

The billboard

Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough’s billboard on Interstate 45.

Several law enforcement officials complained privately to The Golden Hammer about Keough’s billboard on Interstate 45, for which Keough pays $8,000 per month out of campaign funds. The billboard states, “Criminals: This is Montgomery County. We fund law enforcement. We Prosecute. County Judge Mark J. Keough.” Those officials take great offense at Keough’s billboard, because it is materially false:

  • Keough has consistently sought to cut law enforcement budgets through the budget process;
  • Keough, despite his “judge” appellation, has nothing whatsoever to do with law enforcement, as he is neither a law judge, a prosecutor, or a peace officer;
  • Keough has nothing whatsoever to do with “prosecution” of criminal and suffered a DUI conviction in 2021 arising from a horrific accident Keough caused in The Woodlands, as he drove his vehicle into a parked law enforcement vehicle as Keough suffered from delirium from amphetamines and ambient.


Keough is a feckless public official. He’s a likable fellow. He uses that likability to “gaslight” Montgomery County citizens, who seem to believe what he says.






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