Image: Letter from Darla Faulkner, Chief Prosecutor, Public Integrity Division, Office of the Montgomery County District Attorney, to Kathy Jones, General Manager of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), dated, October 25, 2018. In their desperation to protect the bureaucracy of LSGCD and the regulation-induced monopoly forcing water users to purchase expensive surface water from the San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA), LSGCD crossed the lines of Texas Election laws by using state agency resources for advocacy of their favored candidates in the November 6 General Election.
Montgomery County, October 26 – Three left wing groups – the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District (LSGCD), the Woodlands Chamber of Commerce (WCC), and the democrats – have pushed the limits of Texas Election laws again in multiple respects, as the massive Republican voter tsunami has continued to go to the polls during Early Voting for the November 6, 2018, General Election. There seems to be no limit to the propriety the scofflaws are willing to breach in order to muster more support for their favored pro-Big Government candidates.
LSGCD and its General Manager Kathy Jones run into District Attorney Brett Ligon and his Chief Public Integrity Prosecutor Darla Faulkner
On Wednesday, October 24, 2018, The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, reported that LSGCD, the rogue state agency that will face the future beginning November 6, 2018, with a Board of Directors whom the citizens elect rather than the current one whom special interests with close ties to the water-monopolizing San Jacinto River Authority (SJRA) have appointed, decided to play Soviet-style politics by crossing way over the lone of using government employment positions and property for political purposes in violation of the Texas Penal Code and the Texas Government Code. LSGCD used its government agency website to promote a slate of pro-SJRA, pro-government-regulation, anti-citizens rights candidates and excluded the pro-citizen Restore Affordable Water (RAW) candidates from the political promotion. Please see “Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District Starts Openly Playing Soviet-Style Politics, Easily Crosses The Line Of The Law By Campaigning On Its State Agency Website,” The Golden Hammer, October 24, 2018.
As of Wednesday morning, LSGCD’s website only listed the backgrounds and qualifications of the pro-SJRA slate of candidates and even included campaign advocacy statements of several of them, including LSGCD President Rick Moffatt and LSGCD anti-citizen incumbent Gregg Hope. During the day on October 24, LSGCD included two additional candidates who are on the RAW slate of pro-citizen, pro-property rights candidates, Harry Hardman (running at-large for Place 5), and Webb Melder (running to represent the City of Conroe for Place 6). Several of the RAW candidates refused to participate in the LSGCD website, because it was patently illegal campaign advocacy through a government agency’s resources and employees.
By early Thursday, October 25, 2018, the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office had received several complaints from citizens that LSGCD and its General Manager Kathy Jones, in particular, had clearly violated Texas Election laws. By mid-day on October 25, LSGCD removed the candidate campaign advocacy statements but has continued to keep up the list of qualifications of some of the candidates running for LSGCD’s Board of Directors.
If nothing else, Jones has made clear that the new Board of Directors’ first action should be to dismiss her summarily from her position as General Manager as anti-citizen and as someone willing to stretch far beyond the limits of the law and of propriety in order to suit her political purposes.
Nevertheless, on October 25, 2018, Darla Faulkner, Chief Prosecutor of the Public Integrity Division of the Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon’s Office, sent Jones a letter of admonishment. The letter included the following:
“We have been in contact with the Texas Ethics Commission [which regulates political campaigns and political advertising] and believe that a Candidate Profile Guide containing express advocacy language constitutes a political advertisement. A political advertisement can be a violation of Sections 255.005 and/or 255.031 of the Texas Elections Code which is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor. A political advertisement may also be in violation of Sections 255.001 and/or 255.007 of the Texas Elections Code and carry civil penalties.
Faulkner acknowledged that LSGCD and Jones had removed the “express advocacy” language from the website but made clear the District Attorney’s Office will continue to monitor the website and if the express advocacy language reappears, “this inquiry will be reopened and a criminal investigation into this matter will follow.”
Rather than using the public’s resources for the public’s benefit, LSGCD has misapplied public funds and employee time and has required time and effort of Montgomery County’s local law enforcement prosecutor to monitor the activities of the scofflaw state agency through the end of the November 6 General Election.
Woodlands Chamber, candidate Stittleburg blow bounds of propriety, violate Texas Election law
A few minutes after noon, on Wednesday, October 25, 2018, the Woodlands Chamber of Commerce (WCC), a nonprofit organization registered under Section 501(c)(6) of the Internal Revenue Code, issued an e-blast to its entire membership which appeared to include an endorsement of ultraliberal democrat Jay Stittleburg who is running for Montgomery County Judge against Republican Nominee Mark Keough.
Unlike responsible media organizations which would not run a political advertisement without the required advertising disclaimer, “Pd. Poli. Adv., Jay Stittleburg Campaign,” or the like, the Woodlands Chamber chose to run an advertisement in which the Chamber seemed to back Stittleburg by emblazoning his name and making the comment, “If you don’t like the direction the county and the state are headed, now is the time to help change course.”
Without the political disclaimer, which Section 255.001 of the Texas Election Code requires, the Chamber is subject to civil penalties of up to $4,000 for each violation, which would likely constitute one violation for each recipient of the e-blast. Stittleburg would be subject to the same civil penalties, if the e-blast were actually a political advertisement which he purchased to appear on the Chamber’s e-blast.
When confronted with the apparent endorsement by the Chamber of Stittleburg, Gina Mitchell, the Chamber’s Director of Finance and Operations, refused to take any corrective action although she acknowledged the Chamber had made a mistake by failing to include the political disclaimer.
It remains unclear whether Stittleburg or the Chamber paid for the political advertisement in the e-blast, although the wording of the e-blast makes it seem as though the Chamber endorsed the ultra-liberal democrat in the electoral contest for Montgomery County Judge over the Republican Nominee, Mark Keough. Mitchell did state that the Chamber has not taken a position in the electoral contest (even though it most obviously did.)
The Woodlands Chamber has long suffered from leftist leanings, particularly taking anti-citizen positions which the developer of the Woodlands favored.
Chamber President J.J. Hollie did not respond to telephone calls or emails seeking comment.
Massive voter turnout continues
Just after four days of Early Voting, in which 55,574 voters cast their ballots in person or by mail, the voter Early Voting turnout has exceeded 2014’s entire two weeks of Early Voting by more than 37.5%!
Voting numbers on Thursday, October 25, 2018, remained steady with only a slight drop off from previous days, which is typical of Early Voting patterns from previous years.