Image: Magnolia ISD Superintendent’s Secretary Chris Hinkleman’s email during school business hours to the members of the Charlie Riley Band to coordinate a political event at which the Precinct 2 County Commissioner’s music band would play.
Magnolia, January 26 – Magnolia Republican Precinct Chair and conservative leader Ginger Russell called out the Magnolia Independent School District for using more taxpayer resources to manage political events for Precinct 2 County Commissioner Charlie Riley, the former Magnolia ISD Board of Trustees member who is now running for re-election as a County Commissioner in the March 6, 2018, Republican Primary Election. In criticizing the school district, Russell released two emails she obtained that show that Magnolia ISD Superintendent Todd Stephens’ secretary Chris Hinkelman coordinates the concerts, rehearsals, and other activities of the Charlie Riley Band, which Riley uses to promote his political endeavors.
The Charlie Riley Band played at Riley’s “campaign kickoff” on October 14, 2017, and used school district trucks and employees to help set up and take down equipment for the re-election political event. The event and many other abuses of County government and school district public property, employees, and equipment are currently the subject of an investigation by the Montgomery County District Attorney and Grand Jury. The Band appeared together at a recent Montgomery County Commissioners Court meeting to lobby to support Riley’s position on construction and funding of the $73 million, 3.6 mile, Tx 249 Tollway, also known as the Decimation of Hope Highway.
In an exclusive interview with The Golden Hammer, Montgomery County’s leading daily newspaper, Russell said, “It is unacceptable that the Magnolia ISD is the managing agent for the Charlie Riley Band. It appears from documents I received they manage the band’s schedule and players for performances. The fact that you have these two government entities, Magnolia ISD and Commissioner Riley working so closely in hopes of facilitating a win for Charlie Riley and his election is illegal.”
In a September 11, 2017, email from the school district email server to Riley’s government County email address as well as to several other individuals, Hinkleman coordinated the political group’s activities at several events. Riley, of course, claims that the group works as a nonprofit organization to assist charities. The problem, however, is that Riley’s political campaign logo is the same logo he uses for the Band, which plays at many events, such as Riley’s October 14 “campaign kickoff” which are entirely political.
Another email, dated, September 22, 2017, also from Hinkleman included an invitation from Magnolia ISD Superintendent Todd Stephens, who plays with the Band, to the Charlie Riley Band members.
Magnolia ISD allows Riley and his musical group to store their musical instruments and amplifiers at the Magnolia school district’s Administration Building free-of-charge. Of course, school district employees assist the band in moving the equipment around, setting it up, and taking it down for the numerous political events at which the Band plays to support Riley’s showmanship and political career.
Russell added, “Magnolia ISD School Board President, Gary Blizzard plays in the band as well as well as the Superintendent, Todd Stephens, former board member Steve Crews, Vice Principal, Jim Gassaway and Magnolia ISD Director of After School Programs, Stephanie Saker. Why wouldn’t people expect the school board to step up and put a stop to this? They are part of the problem. It is so blatantly obvious the political collusion between the Commissioner Riley and Magnolia ISD. It needs to be thoroughly investigated and stopped. These actions make it completely unfair for another candidate to run in the commissioner’s race.”
In addition to the recent issues, Russell has raised, she’s also raised other concerns about Riley and possibly County Judge Craig Doyal:
- Under then Commissioner Craig Doyal’s personal direction, a County employee regularly prepared his campaign reports at the Precinct 2 office.
- Under Doyal’s personal direction, a County employee prepared political program ads during work hours at the Precinct 2 office.
- Under Doyal’s personal direction, a County employee 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.
- Riley instructed a County employee to “do what you need to do to get it [Doyal’s political campaign reports] finished” including taking a county printer to the County employee’s home.
- For the past several years, Riley and Doyal have stored their barbecue trailers they use during political campaigns on County property in the Precinct 2 Commissioners barnyard in Magnolia behind a locked and gated fence. Riley and Doyal have not paid the County anything for the use of that storage space.
- Precinct 2 employees have confirmed that Riley and Doyal have had County employees provide automotive repairs and vehicle maintenance to members of Riley’s and Doyal’s families at no charge to them.
- Riley and Doyal had the Building Maintenance Department install plumbing and electrical connections at the Precinct 2 barnyard so they could cook there for their political campaigns.
- On September 14, 2017, Riley admitted in writing, “As far as the County yard storing my personal cooking trailer, that is correct.”
- On October 13, 2017, Riley, his wife Deanne who is a County employee in the position Riley established for her, and several County employees spent a large portion of the County work day making preparations for his political campaign kickoff the next day.
- On October 14, 2017, Riley, Stephens, and at least two Magnolia ISD maintenance workers loaded a Magnolia ISD truck at the Magnolia ISD Administration Building with Riley’s personal band equipment stored at the Administration Building for free. The school district employees then transported the equipment to the site of Riley’s political campaign kickoff, unloaded the equipment, participated in Riley’s campaign presentation, loaded the equipment back onto the school district truck, transported it back to the Administration Building, and unloaded the equipment with Riley and Stephens there to help with the unloading and re-storage of the equipment.
- On October 14, 2017, Riley utilized some County-owned electrical carts as a “train” to carry passengers attending Riley’s campaign kickoff from where they parked to the site of the event. On October 15, 2017, the carts were back in the Commissioners Precinct 2 barnyard behind the locked and gated fence.
- On October 16, 2017, in order to attempt to cover up Riley’s free use of school district vehicles and employees, Stephens ordered Director of Finance Garrett Matej to create a phony invoice 8101 for $100.00 to Riley for Riley’s use of the school district’s truck over the October 14 and 15 weekend.