Image: Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner has developed enormous political self-discipline over the past three years. This photograph shows Riley (center) talking with constituents at one of his fundraisers.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, December 29 – Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley is The Golden Hammer‘s Power Top Ten #1. He runs the Montgomery County Commissioners Court, largely controls the Montgomery County Republican Party’s money, and has developed a countywide network of pro-Big Government advocates who pose as Republicans to win elections.
The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, continues the tradition of listing the Power Top Ten, the ten most powerful people in Montgomery County. The Power Top Ten doesn’t commemorate the ten best people in Montgomery County necessarily, but the most powerful people who are actually able to accomplish political or policy goals. In other words, he or she can get things done in Montgomery County.
So far, The Golden Hammer has named nine other people in the Power Top Ten:
#2 Kristin Christ, political consultant
#3 Bobby Jack Adams, Holly Arbuckle, and the “Deep State” of County government vendors
#4 Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon
#5 Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson
#6 Conroe Independent School District Superintendent Curtis Null
#7 Montgomery County Judge Chief of Staff Jason Millsaps
#8 Conroe Mayor Jody Czajkoski, Conroe First Lady Nicole Czajkoski, and Quadvest President Simon Sequeira
#9, Woodlands Township Chairman Gordy Bunch.
#10, Conservative Republican activist Ginger Russell.
#1: Precinct 2 Montgomery County Commissioner Charlie Riley
Riley’s good decision occurred three years ago when he decided to put some good people around him. First, he hired Bruce Berger as his Chief of Staff. Berger is a highly-intelligent veteran with considerable business experience. He’s someone to whom Riley actually listens. Riley is far more prepared in Commissioners Court meetings than he was previously. He’s also imposed far more political discipline within his Precinct 2 office.
Second, Riley hired Kristin Christ (the Power Top Ten #2; see https://thegoldenhammer.net/power-top-ten-2-political-consultant-kristin-christ/) as his political consultant. Christ is ruthless and would never allow anything like morals to get in her way. Christ has helped Riley develop a political action committee, the Republican Voters of Texas PAC, a pro-Big Government organization, which directly opposes most of what conservatives and Republicans believe. By creating confusion among voters, Christ has successfully overcome the influence of the Texas Patriots PAC and other grassroots conservative groups everywhere in Montgomery County other than The Woodlands. No one is stronger electorally in Montgomery County politics than Charlie Riley.
Through the aid of Berger and Christ, Riley has developed a strong network within the political “establishment” throughout Montgomery County. In the 2020 Republican Primary Election in March, Riley’s political organization successfully elected Christ’s husband, Bryan, as County Republican Chairman and ousted several conservative Republican Precinct Chairs who had been critical of Riley in the past. Riley and Christ were also instrumental in the electoral victory of Precinct 1 County Commissioner-Elect Robert Walker, who used Christ as his campaign manager.
Riley controls the money of the Montgomery County Republican Party through Bryan Christ, the County Republican Chairman who spends Party funds as Riley and Wally Wilkerson, the retired County GOP Chairman, direct him. Only a small bank account of funds raised before Christ’s election remains outside of the control of Riley, Wilkerson, and Christ.
The world saw on display Riley’s firm control of three of the five votes on the Montgomery County Commissioners Court on September 8, 2020. Mark Keough, the weak county judge, and James Noack, the one conservative-leaning Commissioner on the Court, tried to adopt the “effective tax rate” of 43.19 cents per $100 valuation. Noack’s motion died on a two to three vote with almost no discussion whatsoever. In an obviously orchestrated move, Riley then made a motion to adopt a tax rate, 43.12 cents per $100 valuation, and Montgomery County Budget lower then the no-new-tax-revenue rate. Riley’s pro-spending allies on the Commissioners Court, James Metts (Precinct 4) and Mike Meador (Precinct 1) immediately voted with Riley, who proposed moving funds saved from over-taxation in previous fiscal years into the Fiscal Year 2021 Budget in order to support the move. Keough and Noack voted along with them but in stunned silence, as it became apparent that Riley controlled the votes on the policy-making Commissioners Court.
Riley’s control of the Commissioners Court will continue on January 1, 2021, when Walker replaces his retiring first cousin Meador.
Riley funds his political machine through his strong network of County government vendors, largely from outside of Montgomery County, who contribute money to his campaign and, ultimately, to the Republican Voters of Texas PAC as well.
Charlie is in charge. Have no doubt about it. His alliance with lovers of Big Government, County vendors, and “establishment” sycophants works. He may not be a particularly effective or outcome-producing County Commissioner, but Riley has mastered manipulation, as the historian Boren describes, of the “greater fools”: “‘Tis me; ‘Tis thee; ‘Tis we.'”