Image: For some reason, the “world’s nastiest privy,” located at approximately 15,000 elevation on Mount Elbrus, Caucasus Mountains, Russia, comes to mind in reading this article.
Magnolia and Conroe, May 23 – At least for the past six years, the Montgomery County Precinct 2 Commissioner’s Office has experienced grave difficulties distinguishing “official” from “political” functions under the supposed leadership of Craig Doyal, who served as County Commissioner through 2014 and is now County Judge, and his successor Charlie Riley, who served as Doyal’s Operations Manager and is now the County Commissioner. Under both Doyal and Riley, the Precinct 2 Office has engaged in political functions and mixed them with official functions, even though the Texas Election Code make clear that the two may not mix.
Please note that The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, is making available the infamous political advertising video which Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal illegally filmed in his County office and which is the subject of a criminal investigation of the Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon’s Office and of at least two other non-criminal investigations of other law enforcement agencies. The actual video of Doyal’s illegal political advertisement appears below.
On March 13, 2012, Precinct 2 Operations Manager (now Commissioner) Charlie Riley terminated Melissa Goetz as a Precinct 2 administrative assistant after his wife, Deanne Riley, insisted that it was time for Goetz to go. Goetz had been a long time associate and employee of Riley, having served with Riley as a founding director and officer of the Magnolia Education Foundation.
During the afternoon after Riley terminated Goetz, he received a telephone call from his boss, County Commissioner (now Judge) Craig Doyal who summoned Riley out to his truck parked in front of the Commissioner’s barn. Doyal and Riley engaged in a heated argument during which Riley told Doyal that he would resign as an employee of Montgomery County. Riley then left. The next morning Doyal convinced Riley to change his mind when Doyal agreed to sign the termination as Goetz’s official boss. Officially, Riley and Doyal terminated Goetz on March 14, 2012, as follows: “…the severity of the offense is so serious that this level of discipline [termination] is appropriate…It just came to my attention that on or about January 9, 2012, you returned a [county] printer to the office which you admitted using to prepare campaign materials [for Doyal’s political campaign!]…”
On April 17, 2012, Melissa Goetz sent a letter to Commissioner Doyal that recounted that:
- Under Doyal’s personal direction, Melissa Goetz regularly prepared his campaign reports at the Precinct 2 office.
- Under Doyal’s personal direction, Melissa Goetz prepared political program ads during work hours at the Precinct 2 office.
- Under Doyal’s personal direction, Melissa Goetz prepared and mailed political checks during work hours and worked on political fundraisers during for Doyal during work hours.
- Other county employees in Precinct 2 worked on campaign activities and fundraisers for Doyal during work hours.
- The Precinct 2 mechanics shop built platforms during work hours for Doyal’s political fundraisers.
- Operations Manager Charlie Riley purchased food for Doyal’s political fundraisers during county business hours.
- Doyal approved of the use of county materials, equipment, and time to work on his campaign.
- Charlie Riley, Melissa Goetz’s immediate supervisor, instructed Goetz to “do what you need to do to get it [Doyal’s political campaign reports] finished” including taking a county printer to Goetz’s home.
In 2014, Doyal desperately wanted to be the Montgomery County Judge, so he ran of the position in the Republican Primary Election against County Infrastructure Director Mark Bosma and retiring County Judge Alan B. Sadler’s Chief of Staff Doris Golemon. It was during that campaign that Doyal developed his infamous “Hit List” of County employees who dared to oppose him politically, especially in the Republican Runoff Election.
During the 2014 electoral campaign, Doyal filmed a 30-second political advertisement which, as of this morning, Doyal still showed on his official campaign website. The film included scenes of Doyal supposedly working inside of his Precinct 2 Commissioners Office, a clear violation of Texas Election Code Section 255.003.
2016: Open Meetings Indictments of Doyal and Riley
Of course, 2016 brought the indictments of Doyal and Riley for allegedly violating the Texas Open Meetings Act (“TOMA”). On April 3, 2017, Visiting District Judge Randy Clapp of Wharton County dismissed the cases against them after Doyal and Riley argued that TOMA violated their Constitutional rights. The State of Texas is currently appealing the dismissal to the Ninth Court of Appeals at Beaumont.
2017: Riley’s Absurd “Conservative” Press Release and Possible Violation of the Election Code
On April 30, 2017, Riley, sensing that his Precinct 2 constituents had had enough of his contributions to the explosion of County spending and his poor management of road development in Precinct 2, issued a press release entitled “Personnel Records Reflect Conservative Leadership from Commissioner Riley” from his political campaign. The press release contained substantial misinformation. Precinct 3 County Commissioner countered Riley’s press release with one of his own.
The problem arose in Riley’s April 30 press release near the end of it when he encouraged residents to contact him with questions raised in his campaign’s political advertisement through his official County email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Texas Election Code Section 255.0031 provides “an officer or employee of a state agency or political subdivision may not knowingly use or authorize the use of an internal mail system for the distribution of political advertising….A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.”
Riley’s press release was far off the mark factually. It was even farther off the mark from something that, legally, Riley may do as an incumbent elected official.
2017: Doyal’s Infamous Video that triggered the “Video-Gate” firestorm
For full coverage of the Video-Gate scandal, please read “Doyal Campaign Ad Violates Texas Election Code, State Ethics Guidelines, County Code of Ethics, Constitutes Class A Misdemeanor,” The Golden Hammer, May 21, 2017.
Doyal violated the Texas Election Code and Texas Ethics Commission proscriptions with the video he filmed from his County office. Filming the political advertisement in a County office is a violation of Section 255.003 of the Texas Election Code and of Texas Ethics Commission Opinion Number 443. Doyal began to circulate the video late Friday, May 19, and through the morning of Saturday, May 20, 2017.
Section 255.003 of the Texas Election Code establishes a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail, for any officer or employee of a political subdivision who knowingly spends or authorizes the use of public funds for political advertising.
In Texas Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion Number 443, the Texas Ethics Commission clarified that Section 255.003 specifically prohibits the use of facilities not open to the public for political advertising of the sort which Doyal filmed for the video. Doyal’s office is not a public forum open to everyone, so it is clear that he violated the criminal statute by using his office for the advertisement.
Here’s the infamous Doyal video. Please click on the words “Video-2” and enjoy.