Image: Texas State Tax Lien for Montgomery County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport’s failure to pay sales taxes due from a side business she had while County Treasurer. The Texas Comptroller filed the Tax Lien against Davenport, under her previous name Stephanne Hope Laviolette, in the Real Property Records of Montgomery County on January 26, 2015.
Conroe, January 18 – Montgomery County Treasurer Stephanne Davenport’s tax lien, federal tax problems, and other financial missteps raise troubling concerns about the ignorance with which Davenport is “manipulating county finances,” to use her own phrase. Davenport obviously had serious problems handling her personal finances around the time she became County Treasurer. (Her health issues that had nothing to do with the financial problems arose two years later, so were obviously not a cause of the financial mismanagement.)
State tax lien
On January 26, 2015, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar had had enough. His office had made numerous telephone calls to Davenport who ran a side business under her previous name, Stephanne Hope Laviolette, to attempt to collect sales tax Davenport had collected in her personal business but failed to remit over to the State of Texas. Hegar’s staff in Austin had sent numerous letters to Davenport, but never got any response from Davenport who owed at least $1,296.22, and likely substantially more, according to officials in the Office of the Texas Comptroller who discussed this matter with The Golden Hammer.
Therefore, on January 26, 2015, the elected Texas Comptroller filed a Texas State Tax Lien against Davenport, her Rivershire home, and all of her personal property in the Real Property Records of Montgomery County, which Montgomery County Clerk Mark Turnbull and his staff maintain.
The tax lien showed Davenport’s failure to pay taxes at least during the time period from July 1, 2013, to September 30, 2013. During that time period, Davenport had just become the Montgomery County Treasurer. She was still married to her previous husband of 20 years’ marriage who lived with her and their 12-year-old son at their Rivershire home in Conroe.
Davenport didn’t obtain a lien release from the Texas Comptroller until November 2, 2015. The period of Davenport’s failure to pay sales taxes when they were due to the State of Texas and to the City of Conroe – from July to September of 2013 – raises very serious and troubling concerns about Davenport’s personal financial mismanagement.
Fraud in divorce and federal tax problems
The Montgomery County Commissioner’s Court appointed Davenport, then Stephanne Hope Laviolette, in June, 2013, as Montgomery County Treasurer to succeed the beloved, but retiring, longtime County Treasurer Martha Gustavsen.
The new County Treasurer and her husband met with a political consultant who might help Davenport aka Laviolette on her upcoming campaign for election to her new job in 2014. The consultant’s name was Marc Davenport.
Davenport aka Laviolette announced, on Thanksgiving 2013, that she wanted a divorce so she could marry Davenport with whom she was having an affair, according to her ex-husband and one other confidential source. During the divorce proceedings that began in December 2013, both Davenport aka Laviolette and her husband were under court orders to provide a sworn inventory of their liabilities and assets in order to divide their marital property fairly.
What is particularly disconcerting, however, is that Davenport aka Laviolette failed to disclose to her now ex-husband that she owed substantial sales taxes to the State of Texas. A failure to disclose a material fact constitutes fraudulent concealment under Texas law. The Golden Hammer has confirmed that neither Davenport’s ex-husband nor his attorney had any knowledge of the sales taxes owed. In fact, they didn’t have any knowledge of the other major financial trouble brewing that would also affect her ex-husband’s ownership interest in their jointly-owned marital property.
When Davenport and her ex-husband finalized their divorce on March 25, 2014, Davenport was to prepare and file their federal income tax return for calendar year 2013. Her ex-husband relied on Davenport to prepare the filing properly. That was his mistake.
The nice folks at the United States Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, notified Davenport’s ex-husband that he would have to pay approximately $6,600 in back taxes, interest, and penalties for Davenport’s failure to prepare appropriate Form 1099s for some sort of business venture in which Davenport was involved and about which her ex-husband was unaware. Her ex-husband negotiated an arrangement with the IRS, so that he would have to pay only half of the owed amount. He did so, but he continues to receive notices from the IRS through the present that Davenport’s portion of the back taxes, interest, and penalties remain due and owing.
Davenport failed to disclose those financial problems to her ex-husband during the pendency of their divorce as well. Davenport also failed to return several telephone calls from this newspaper.
Davenport and financial manipulation
The June, 2013, appointment of Davenport (formerly Laviolette prior to her marriage to political consultant Marc Davenport) raised troubling questions regarding nepotism and her political relationship with County Judge Craig Doyal. Doyal’s daughter is a County employee who works for Davenport and is also a close friend of hers. Davenport and Doyal’s daughter had become friends while working together in the County Treasurer’s Office. Doyal became the primary advocate for Davenport’s appointment.
Davenport’s predecessor as County Treasurer, Martha Gustavsen, raised concerns with several County officials who ignored her as she was retiring from the County as an elected official on June 30, 2013. Strangely, Precinct 1 County Commissioner Mike Meador consistently opposed the appointment of Davenport as Treasurer and had sought to follow Gustavsen’s recommendation.
After Davenport refused to release her procedures manual in response to a Texas Public Information Act/Open Records Act request on December 1, 2017, by Conroe Independent School District Board President Melanie Pryor Bush, Davenport released a statement that the procedure manual she’s seeking to hide “contain[s] step by step instruction on how to manipulate the county finance system.” (Emphasis added.)
Davenport has clearly raised the issue, as she runs for re-election: do the citizens of Montgomery County want a County Treasurer who has focused on step by step instructions on how to manipulate the County finance system?
More importantly, Davenport’s background prior to going to work as a clerk for Gustavsen was working for her sister’s secretarial service on Conroe. Davenport never had any formal education beyond a high school diploma.
Davenport clearly mismanaged her personal finances in the 2013 and 2014 time frame.
Davenport is hiding her procedures from her opponent and from the public until after the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election.
Fortunately, for the citizens, however, state tax liens revealing Davenport’s mismanagement of her personal financial affairs even after she became the Montgomery County Treasurer are within public records that even Stephanne Davenport (and the Courier blog) can’t hide.