Image: Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal appears surprised that the full truth about his “Hit List” has come out.
Conroe, January 30 – When State Representative Mark Keough, the conservative Republican who is running against ex-democrat Craig Doyal for Montgomery County Judge in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election, mentioned a “Hit List” during his speech to the North Shore Republican Women, some individuals in the crowd had never heard mention of the phrase. Sadly, Doyal’s “Hit List” of individuals whom Doyal considered his political enemies after the 2014 election is a reality. Doyal began a vendetta against his perceived foes during his 2014 electoral contest.
While discussing ethics which is so sorely missing from the Montgomery County government, Keough said,
“Unfortunately, we have a situation where our judge is mired in an ethical crisis. It’s not you. It’s not me. It’s the one in charge. We hate to talk about this. We feel bad in talking about this. But this is what’s going on. As a matter of fact, within a few weeks of his election he developed a ‘Hit List’ to quash anyone who would speak out in opposition. Within the first three years, he’s had two grand jury investigations, one indictment, and is currently in an investigation right now.” (Emphasis added.)
Keough has explained on several occasions that he took the opposite approach when the voters elected him to the Texas House of Representatives in 2014. “I believe God gave me two ears and a mouth so that I could listen and talk to people to work to unify them together. After I won election to the House, I met with hundreds of people who had not supported me in the election to make sure to let them know I was their Representative too. I’ve earned a lot of friends and allies by reaching out to people who didn’t support me the first time I ran for office.”
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, has confirmed that Keough has never developed a “Hit List” personally or in his political campaigns.
Keough explained, “I don’t understand someone who is a sore winner. After they’ve won election, you’d think they would reach across the aisle even to those who didn’t necessarily support them in the election.”
Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal’s approach after his election in 2014 was completely the opposite to Keough’s. Doyal spent enormous time with his top supporters developing a “Hit List.”
Public discussion of Doyal’s “Hit List” of his political enemies arose as a result of County Human Resources Department Director Dodi Shaw’s mention of it in her formal letter of February 13, 2017 to the members of the Commissioners Court. The full story of Shaw’s letter broke in The Golden Hammer‘s story on February 18, 2017: “Breaking News: HR Director Dodi Shaw Fears For Her Job, Pledges Loyalty In Complaint Letter To County Judge Craig Doyal.”
Three sources, who have requested anonymity, approached The Golden Hammer to recount precisely how the infamous list came about.
The night of March 4, 2014, was both good and bad for then-Precinct 2 County Commissioner Craig Doyal. Doyal was a candidate for Montgomery County Judge in the Republican Primary Election. He and a group of his closest supporters sat around a conference table in a law office at 207 Simonton Street in Conroe where Doyal’s campaign held a post-election party. The election results were coming in, as Doyal sat at the center of the conference table (in the “power position”) underneath a metal star that hung on the wall behind him.
The conference room where Craig Doyal first formulated his list of enemies that eventually became his “Hit List” on the night of March 4, 2012, at 207 Simonton Street, Conroe. Doyal sat at the conference table under the star on the wall.
Some of Doyal’s closest allies in the Primary Election sat or stood around the table with him including a high-level employee from the County Clerk’s office, and the longtime administrative assistant of the County Engineer’s office, among others. The witnesses to the incident all agreed upon the facts, except that one of them remembered the conference table as “oval” rather than the rectangle that it actually is. One of the three witnesses recalls County Engineer Mark Mooney in the room at the time of the list’s creation but one of the others is not certain and one doesn’t recall him there.
The results showed a very tight race between Doyal and County Infrastructure Director Mark Bosma. County Judge Barb Sadler’s former chief of staff Doris Golemon appeared to be running a distant third place but garnered enough votes to force a runoff between Doyal and Bosma. The final results of the Republican Primary Election were 17,133 votes for Doyal (43.39%), 17,228 votes for Bosma (43.63%), and 5,124 votes for Golemon (12.98%).
Doyal announced to his supporters as the results came in words to the effect, “I want to know every county employee that supported Mark Bosma. They’re about to get theirs.”
In response, the group and Doyal began to list the names of the people who came to their minds. Doyal had a pen and sheet of paper and wrote down their names as his friends and supporters listed them.
The original list did not have a title of the “Hit List.” It did, however, include:
1) Bosma (Doyal forced Bosma to resign from the County government);
2) Darlou Zenor, County Purchasing Director (Doyal terminated Zenor);
3) Bruce Zenor, Lieutenant, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department;
4) Dodi Shaw, County Human Resources Director (Doyal tried to terminate Shaw but Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack stepped in to save Shaw’s career);
5) Scott Nichols, County Environmental Health Director; and
6) Captain Mike White, Office of the Constable, Precinct 2.
On May 27, 2014, Doyal defeated Bosma in the Republican Primary Runoff Election with 54.68% of the 33,138 votes cast. By then, at least one of the people who had been in the room with Doyal when he compiled the original enemies’ list became a list member herself. Doyal had named the list the “Hit List” and had told a number of his supporters that he also included:
1) through 6) original list members;
7) Precinct 2 Constable Gene DeForest (Doyal consistently harasses DeForest and his employees when they appear before the Commissioners Court; Doyal refused to permit DeForest to participate in a ceremony honoring employees with length-of-service pins during 2017);
8) Precinct 3 Constable Ryan Gable;
9) J.D. Lambright, County Attorney, who began to work closely with Doyal after Doyal became County Judge;
10) Brett Ligon, Montgomery County District Attorney;
11) Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack; and
12) Marie Moore, Precinct 4 Administrator.
Doyal’s “Hit List” (recreation, Joe Sager).
The “Hit List” was no secret. At least President Richard Nixon kept his “enemies list” private for a brief period of time before Special Counsel John Dean disclosed it to the Senate Watergate Committee. Doyal was proud of his list and publicized it.
Although Doyal has, at times, denied the existence of the “Hit List,” there are too many occasions where he’s discussed it with other County officials and too many occasions where the objects of Doyal’s wrath have mentioned the list as well. Shaw’s February 13, 2017, letter specifically addressed the “Hit List” explicitly. She begged Doyal to accept her pledge of fealty to him and reminded him in the letter that she has attempted to pledge her loyalty to him for two years. Shaw has sounded more like one of the family bosses pledging her loyalty to Don Corleone than a county department manager. On Wednesday, February 22, 2017, Shaw met with County Attorney Lambright for more than two hours and expressed fear for her job during the meeting. Will she meet the fate of Fredo? What did Austin political consultant Pete Peterson mean in his email where he discussed how upbeat Doyal was in a recent conversation about the Texas Open Meetings Act indictment but quoted him saying “there will be blood in the streets”? Is that really how a County Judge should speak?
The “Hit List” is nothing but crass politics. Doyal has turned county management into personal interference with each and every county department.
The “Hit List” has caused numerous severe disruptions in the operation of the Montgomery County government. The most prominent episode occurred during the period when County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport attempted to promote Doyal’s daughter to the position of “Assistant County Treasurer” and Doyal directly intervened into the situation when Shaw expressed concerns for the nepotism involved in the circumstances.
Montgomery County Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack had to exert heroic efforts to save County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw’s job, after County Judge Craig Doyal and County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, the wife of corrupt political boss Marc Davenport, sought to terminate her. Constitutionally, the entire Commissioners Court would need to terminate a County department director, but Doyal has taken it upon himself and usurped the Texas Constitution by terminating Department directors on his own when he doesn’t approve of their politics.
Many have characterized Doyal as a “paranoid dictator,” although his golf obligations leave him little time to run the County government.
How the ugly story began: Davenport’s “reorganization” of her 6-person department which was actually a pretext to promote Doyal’s daughter and give her a raise
A flood of County employees leaked to The Golden Hammer a waterfall of copies of a letter, dated February 13, 2017, from Montgomery County Human Resources Director Dodi Shaw to County Judge Craig Doyal, in which Shaw (1) pled for her job, (2) promised loyalty to Doyal, and (3) complained about allegedly aggressive tactics by County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport to procure a promotion for Lindsey Doyal, the County Judge’s daughter, to “Assistant Treasurer,” and a “reorganization” of the County Treasurer’s department. The Golden Hammer has asked each of the County officials involved to respond to Shaw’s allegations of misconduct in writing by the early afternoon of Sunday, February 19, 2017, so that they may have a fair opportunity to present their perspective of the situation.
Shaw made clear that she wrote the letter to Doyal and distributed it to the other members of the County Commissioners Court on February 13 to fight for her job and to respond to a memorandum, dated January 9, 2017, from County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport. Shaw concluded the letter, “My job as the HR Director for the County is very important to me and I take great pride in the fact me and my employees are ethical and treat our roles and responsibilities with pride and integrity.” She pledged her “full loyalty and support” to Doyal and the other members of the Commissioners Court.
Shaw explained that “Since 2015 I have spoken to some of the members of the Commissioners Court regarding my concerning of being targeted due to the fact I was friends with [former County Infrastructure Director] Mark Bosma” who ran against Doyal for County Judge in 2014.
In her letter, Shaw stated, “Judge, I have met with you numerous times in reference to my concerns for my continuous employment with the County. The first time was 1/21/15 and we talked about my concerns of my name being on your ‘hit list’ to terminate certain employees” who worked with Bosma while he ran against Doyal in the 2014 Republican Primary Election. Shaw reiterated her pledge: “I told you I would be loyal to you as the County Judge…and give you 100%.”
Shaw further described, “On 11/4/15 I met with you regarding a conversation you had with Darlou Zenor, former Purchasing Director [whom Doyal fired in 2016]. You told Darlou that someone saw me, Darlou and Mark meet on Friday nights at Joe’s Pizza in a back corner. I told you that I have never been to Joe’s with Mark or Darlou and especially on a Friday night. The only times I have been to Joe’s on a Friday night was to pick-up a take-out order…You would not tell me who started the rumor. I told you [Doyal] again that I was loyal to the members of the Court…”
Doyal’s Witch Hunt Arising from Yollick Breaking the Facts Surrounding Goetzgate
Shaw continued in the letter,
“During the first week of December 2016 we spoke regarding my concern of some of the posts Mr. Yollick had posted about Melissa Goetz’s termination. I felt you thought the information in his posts had been released by either me or a member of my staff. I assured you that I did not provide Mr. Yollick with any information about her termination until after I received an open records request for her personnel file from Mr. Yollick, Catherine Dominguez, Conroe Courier and John Wertz.”
Shaw reminded Doyal in her letter earlier this week that “You [Doyal] sent me an email on 12/2/16 stating you had no concerns about my job performance or anyone in my office, yet I still feel as though I am being targeted.”
The Golden Hammer has previously reported that Doyal has worked closely with his “chief of staff” jim fredricks to ferret out any disloyal County employees who might dare provide information about County operations to members of the public. Shaw’s letter again confirmed Doyal’s internal “witch hunt” to ensure absolutely loyalty to him inside all County departments.
Nepotism Rampant?! County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport’s Reorganization, Confrontations with Shaw and Her HR Staff
The bulk of Shaw’s 5-page, single-spaced letter addresses Shaw’s claimed confrontations with County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport and with Fredricks over Shaw’s concerns regarding Davenport’s proposed “reorganization” of her 8-person department, which includes Lindsey Doyal, County Judge Craig Doyal’s daughter. Doyal has repeatedly voted for the budgets of the County Treasurer’s Department even though the Department engages in the nepotistic practice of employing his daughter as the payroll coordinator.
Shaw made clear in her letter that most of her confrontations with Davenport arose, because Davenport and fredricks sought to promote and elevate Lindsey Doyal to the position of “Assistant County Treasurer.” Shaw provided a lengthy and detailed timeline concerning her alleged confrontations with Davenport over these issues.
In her letter, Shaw described an October 31, 2016, meeting where Shaw suggested that Lindsey Doyal might be “uncomfortable” participating in the meeting with Shaw, Deputy HR Director Kathy Flowers, and Davenport, because the primary subject of the meeting was Lindsey Doyal. Nevertheless, Lindsey Doyal declined to leave the meeting. During the meeting, Shaw described,
“Stephanne stated she did not think an employee should not be considered for a position based on their last name. Kathy stated that some people felt that Lindsey was in her current position [as payroll coordinator] because of her last name…” Davenport suggested that the HR Department was delaying approval for the reorganization because “’it might be another reason’.”
Two weeks later, according to Shaw, Davenport contacted Shaw’s HR Department and confronted Flowers about something “sinister going on in the way we were reviewing” the proposed new employment positions for the Treasurer’s proposed reorganization. Various complaints from Davenport continued over the next two months, according to Shaw.
On January 25, 2017, the tempers came to a head, as the letter described, in a meeting between Shaw, fredricks, Davenport, and Craig Doyal in Doyal’s office. Shaw explained, “Much to my disappointment Stephanne was allowed to lead the meeting in an unprofessional manner by attacking me in a raised voice. I asked Stephanne several times to stop attacking me but she was allowed to continue in this manner. I tried to discuss the timeline but she spoke over me and continued to attack my comments. Stephanne would not listen to what I had to say and demanded that I return all of the…” departmental proposals for employment positions in Davenport’s proposed reorganization.
Doyal’s Attempts to Stop the Public from Receiving Public Information
Later in the meeting, Doyal and fredricks accused Shaw of leaking information to Eric Yollick, publisher of The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading newspaper. Shaw responded, “I told both of you [Doyal and fredricks] I did not leak anything to Eric Yollick and that both of you know how I feel about him stirring stuff up in the County.”
As Shaw and Davenport continued their disagreements over Davenport’s reorganization, according to Shaw, another dispute broke out over whether Davenport would include her proposed position changes and reorganization for the County Treasurer’s department on the February 14, 2017, Commissioners Court Agenda. Two confidential sources, one of whom is inside County Judge Craig Doyal’s office, have confirmed that Davenport and Fredricks held lengthy meetings on Friday, February 10, 2017, concerning the issue of what to place on the Agenda for the February 14, 2017, Court meeting. Eventually, because Shaw’s HR Department never approved any proposed agenda item, the County Treasurer did not have anything on the Agenda, although a source inside the County Attorney’s Office has confirmed that earlier drafts of the Agenda did include such an item.
Shaw’s letter contains many serious allegations of nepotism, favoritism for the County Judge’s daughter as a County employee, demands of loyalty by Doyal to County employees, fear among the employees over Doyal’s “Hit List,” Doyal’s paranoia about information pertaining to the termination of former County employee Melissa Goetz, and attempts to prevent public information to “leak” out to the public whom Doyal, fredricks, and others apparently desperately seek to exclude from that information.
Noack and Doyal traded lofty accusations arising out of the dispute between Shaw and Stephanne Davenport. The Golden Hammer obtained the letters, while Doyal has attempted to hide them from public view.
The accusations between Noack and Doyal began in a testy executive session held on January 10, 2017, during a regular Commissioners Court meeting in which Doyal presented Davenport’s accusations against Shaw.
Doyal had hoped to keep the matter secret by raising it in executive session. Documents created outside of executive sessions are not exempt under the Texas Open Records Act, even if discussed inside an executive session. Davenport provided her letter complaining about Shaw in secret to Doyal’s “chief of staff” fredricks (who supervises a staff of two administrative assistants). While Doyal read parts of the letter to the Commissioners Court during the executive session, he didn’t actually provide the letter to Noack until Noack had later requested a copy.
On February 1, 2017, in response to receiving a copy of Davenport’s letter, Noack wrote,
“It seemed as though you felt this letter would somehow justify terminating Mrs. Shaw. Comments you have made, and continue to make, confirm your long-standing desire to terminate her. I believe you have created an environment where it is difficult for Mrs. Shaw to succeed as the Human Resources Director for Montgomery County. I do not believe it is coincidence that the name Dodi Shaw was a name on the ‘hit list’ you denied having in a Commissioners Court meeting in 2015. I am referring to the ‘hit list’ you are rumored to have created during your 2014 campaign. The list is said to include the following county employees: Mark Bosma – terminated, Darlou Zenor – no longer employed by Montgomery County [after Doyal terminated her], Dodi Shaw, Don Carpenter [Convention Center Director].”
Doyal spurs County Treasure Davenport to follow suit and create her own “Hit List”
Montgomery County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport, who is attempting to run for re-election, went around the small group of people who attended County Judge Craig Doyal’s June 20, 2017, fundraiser (for his legal defense) and confronted those individuals who have “liked” or “friended” on Facebook her electoral opponent, Melanie Pryor Bush, who is currently President of the Conroe Independent School District Board of Directors. During each confrontation, Davenport told several of her targeted ones that Davenport is “taking notes” and “keeping a list” of who those people are and when they dare to show friendship or liking towards Bush.
Davenport’s “Hit List” already includes the chief of staff of one of Montgomery County’s members in the Texas House of Representatives, a local photographer and event promoter, and several other individuals. One of the anonymous sources commented to The Golden Hammer, “Stephanne Davenport must think she’s back in the 7th grade with these antics.”
Sadly, Davenport is not a 7th grader. Rather, she is the Montgomery County Treasurer who is responsible for the inflow and outflow of a half a billion County tax dollars each year and not someone who should engage in childish retributions.
The Davenports’ modus operandi
Both Davenport and her husband Marc, the corrupt local political boss, threaten elected officials, such as Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal and City Councilman Duane Ham, who dare even to socialize or communicate with people the Davenports don’t like. Those people whom the Davenports don’t like are, in their view, the “haters” to use Stephanne Davenport’s terminology.
A second method which the Davenports utilize to attempt to compete as consultants and politicians is far more disruptive to the operations and management of the Montgomery County government, however. In his own words, Marc Davenport, who sent a lengthy and very threatening email to the husband of one of his public relations competitors (with name of competitor changed to “PR Consultant” to protect the victim) on January 3, 2015, included the following threat:
“Stephanne and I have no social conflicts personally or professionally with PR Consultant and want none, as of right now we know of no conflicts or at least not with anyone close to PR Consultant. So if that develops PR Consultant caused it. People in government know you, not her. My clients will not work with her clients on any level or they will not be my clients. None currently exist that create this conflict. As long as she does not attempt to disrupt or insert herself, there should be no conflicts.”
Stephanne Davenport didn’t like what she saw on May 25, 2017, when Ham dared to appear at a community event with some people Stephanne Davenport doesn’t like. She also didn’t like some other comments which she attributed to Ham, who dared to criticize the Davenports. At 7:17 p.m. that evening, Stephanne Davenport sent a text message to Ham in which she drew a line in the sand in order to express her hatred towards Schoettle and Mrs. X (name changed to protect her), and Ham:
“So Duane, Melanie and…[Mrs. X] walk into a bar. Dead. To. Me. Steph”
“Ok Steph I’m taking it your mad at me! You call with a problem I try to fix the problem and your pissed at me? Duane”
Montgomery County Treasurer Davenport finally replied,
“Not mad. Done. You can call Marc if you need. Our team doesn’t roll with those who roll with the haters. Steph”
Later that evening, Thursday, May 25, Marc Davenport spoke with Ham by telephone. The conversation did not progress too well. During the telephone conversation, Davenport began screaming at Ham and accused Ham of colluding with Marc and Stephanne Davenport’s political enemies. Ham responded, “Well, you talk to Yollick.” Ham accused Davenport of “blackmail.” At that point in time Marc Davenport screamed a phrase described below and hung up. Davenport text messaged Ham and described the entire conversation,
“You [Ham] accused me [Marc Davenport] of collusion with yollick. I told you to go f–k your self and hung up. If you don’t take pictures of you f–king yourself and send them to me there will be nothing to blackmail you with. Melanie [Schoettle], Nathan [Arrazate], Margie [Taylor, a public relations consultant], Gary [Henson, a GOP activist and friend of Ham’s], Kristin [Leggett] are a constant source of undermining. You feeding these people and empowering them to continue to try to weaken is the issue. If you act like one of them you will be treated like one of them. Marc”