Conroe, June 25 – Today at the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, Precinct 4 Montgomery County Commissioner James Metts has placed on the agenda an item to remove Montgomery County Republican Party Vice Chairman Reagan Reed from the powerless County “ethics committee,” because Metts doesn’t like the fact that Reed, in his job for Empower Texans, wrote a news article about the likely suspension of Metts’ close political ally, Precinct 4 Constable Rowdy Hayden, as a result of findings of wrongdoing by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Hayden and four of his Deputy Constables face up to a six-month suspension for allegedly signing false continuing education records for their certified peace officer licenses.
Metts’ action makes Hayden look terrible. His political allies seem to retaliate against citizen activists who report ethical concerns which the public has every right to know. Metts’ raising this issue is nothing but a self-inflicted wound.
Reed and Empower Texans published an article on June 13 about Hayden’s suspension. Upon the demands of a family of convicted felons who are also close political supporters of Metts, Metts has sought to remove Reed from the ethics committee. The ethics committee has never had a formal meeting, because no one has ever filed a formal complaint and because the committee has no enforcement power anyway.
The striking difference, however, which one may observe is the reaction of elected servants (who refer to themselves as “elected officials”) on the one hand and the conservative activists who were instrumental in getting them elected on the other hand. Reed, in fact, as GOP Vice Chairman and the de facto Republican Party leader during the November 6, 2018, General Election (since GOP County Chairman Wally Wilkerson has refused to lift a finger to campaign for Republican candidates since the Precinct Chairs dispersed his authority in a Bylaws amendment on June 26, 2018) was precisely the person who led the campaign to elect Metts, Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, County Judge Mark Keough, and many other Republican and nonpartisan elected servants who expect the activists who elected them to follow their “leadership.”
Under Reed’s outstanding leadership and brilliant strategy, Montgomery County was an outlier in the 2018 General Election and garnered a much higher turnout and percentage for Republican and conservative candidates than almost every other suburban county in Texas.
The difference in the reaction to Reed’s alleged “misconduct” is stark. Hayden and his Deputies do face suspension. The idea that they’d ever appear before the toothless “ethics committee” is slim to none. No one has filed a complaint. In fact, there’d be no point to filing a complaint, because there is no enforceability to the current Montgomery County government’s Code of Ethics.
Metts has taken the opportunity to take the complaints of his convicted felon constituents to make a political jab at Reed and other conservatives who have criticized the ethics and pro-Big-Government behavior of Metts. The vast majority of other elected servants, many of whom enjoy their jobs thanks to the work of Reed and other activists who follow his leadership, seem to intend to sit on their hands and watch from the sidelines as the Commissioners Court removes Reed from an “ethics committee,” thereby making our community, Montgomery County, look even more foolish and corrupt than we already do.
In other words, here’s how the elected servant, who has lost touch with the fact that he’s really just a regular citizen, approaches the problem:
- There’s a political opportunity for me to get some publicity, whether it’s good or bad, which gets my name recognized;
- How can I use the opportunity to increase my power?
Look at the Board members of the Lone Star Groundwater Conservation District. Reed, as GOP Vice Chairman, worked very hard to elect all of them on November 6, 2018. The likelihood that any of them will appear in defense of Reed seems low. Larry Rogers, who seems far more down-to-earth than many other “electeds” on that Board seems the most likely to appear at the Commissioners Court. Sadly, the instant they took the oath of office, some of the LSGCD Board members have become individuals who expect the plebeians to have “faith” in them. They’ll look out for themselves and stay away from defending Reed who block-walked hundreds of homes for them, was instrumental in sending and designing mailers on their behalf, spoke out for them during the campaign, and fought for all seven of the elected LSGCD Board members vociferously. Quite simply, they’ve forgotten who the voters elected them.
The oath of office changes some people. Some of the LSGCD Board members are quite different than they were on November 5, 2018. Now, some of them have become people who believe the citizens should have “faith” in them.
The citizen reaction to Metts’ bizarre action has been vastly different. Citizens, the masters of elected servants, are furious. Of course, Metts has his partisans, like the family of felons, or some of Riley’s political sycophants. Nevertheless, the vast majority of citizens recognize this action for precisely what it is: Reed is a young man who has vast integrity and ethics. Metts and the “electeds” in whom the citizens should have “faith” don’t want someone like that sitting on an “ethics committee” which could potentially review a complaint against them, toothless though such a complaint may be.
…the vast majority of citizens recognize this action for precisely what it is: Reed is a young man who has vast integrity and ethics. Metts and the “electeds” in whom the citizens should have “faith” don’t want someone like that sitting on an “ethics committee” which could potentially review a complaint against them, toothless though such a complaint may be.
In other words, here’s how the citizen approaches the problem:
- There’s a question which has arisen to move policy about which I care forward;
- What is the best approach to achieve my policy goal?
Interestingly, there’s one former elected servant who we can all easily surmise what his position would be on this particular issue, JD Lambright. The beloved former Montgomery County Attorney was a strong ethics advocate. He made known his objections to individuals (Linda Stuckey and Tommy Gage) whom Riley tried to place on the “ethics committee” because they were merely partisans of Riley. Lambright would not have put up with Metts’ proposal to remove Reed for Reed merely reporting about the potential suspension. It will be interesting to measure the contrast, if any, between Lambright’s successor as County Attorney, B.D. Griffin, and Lambright. On ethics issues, very clearly, Lambright didn’t take the elected servant approach. He didn’t evaluate how he could increase his power in his actions, as he made clear when he confronted Riley and the Commissioners Court in their attempt to appoint cronies to the “ethics committee.” Instead, Lambright prosecuted the policy goal of strengthening ethics in the County government. His analysis was: (1) does a proposed action move forward the policy goal of stronger ethics? (2) If it does or if the action does not, then what must I do to intervene to ensure we move closer to the policy goal?
The Commissioners Court action today may very well illustrate the corruption of individuals who take the oath of office. When they lose their understanding that they’re mere citizens who temporarily have lowered themselves to servants, they continue to act with the citizen mindset rather than the mistaken belief that they’re a member of some sort of elite.