Revelations that much of the money in local politics is provided by the same folks that receive contracts from Williamson county does not come as a great shock to regular readers of this blog. However, the recent article in the Williamson County Sun, Judge Law’s campaign funds face questioning, Ethics complaint raises questions about Wilco, will bring the story to a very different audience. The fallout from that is yet to be determined, but one cannot help feeling that the accountability moment for the shady behavior is rapidly approaching.
UPDATE: EyeOnWilliamson.org is hearing that Lisa Birkman is not taking phone calls and Jana Duty has taken a leave of absence.
There’s one thing the WCS left out that needs to be made perfectly clear. Every single elected official/candidate running for reelection mentioned in the article is a Republican. Reporter Callie Enlow was meticulously detailed in every other aspect. The word “Republican” appears exactly once in the entire 1200-word piece, and that was to name TRMPAC in describing TPJ’s complaint.
The article contains only one other party reference, that of Democratic candidate for County Attorney Jaime Lynn. Make no mistake about it. This is a Republican scandal that spans all levels of government. It is time they owned up to their failures.
Another thrust of the article which needs to be highlighted is not just the money connection between Republican County Attorney Jana Duty and Republican Chief Justice of the Third Court of Appeals, who is under an ethics cloud. (See this EOW post from last week, Ethics Complaint Filed Against 3rd Court of Appeals Chief Justice W. Kenneth Law). But the relationship – as previously reported in the Austin Chronicle by Patricia J. Ruland, Appeals Court Rules Against WilCo Constable: The fight continues – as it pertains to the county’s fight with Constable Gary Griffin. There are possible conflicts between Chief Justice Law, 3rd Court of Appeals Justice David Puryear and County Attorney Jana Duty:
Maybe it’s politics as usual in Williamson Co., including the connections underlying the 3rd Court’s opinion. First, there’s the obligatory county official family tie – 3rd Court Justice David Puryear‘s son Geoffrey works as an attorney under County Attorney Jana Duty. Duty’s assistant, Vickie Vickers, coordinated a Dec. 13 Georgetown fundraiser for 3rd Court Chief Justice Ken Law, held only a couple of weeks after the opinion was issued (a fundraiser announcement dated Nov. 28 – the same day as the court’s ruling – listed Duty and Sheriff James Wilson as committee members). Law also reportedly sandwiched in appearances at the Republican Women’s Club and the local GOP’s Christmas shindig right after the opinion’s release. The timing alone suggests that Law, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, might have considered recusing himself from the court’s decision, and perhaps Puryear as well.
Politics as usual in Williamson County. With all of that happening in such close proximity to the 3rd Court of Appeals ruling on the case it raises even more questions. Cozy relationships between judges and county officials, as well as the fact that so much money is coming in to our current elected officials from those that get work from the elected officials is not what the people of Williamson Count voted for.
I was asked recently, “How does Duty plan to explain all of this?” My response was, she probably doesn’t and won’t unless she perceives that her reelection is in trouble. The GOP, since they’ve been ruling Williamson County, have never “explained” things to the voters. They know what’s best for us and will tell us what we need to know when they deem it’s appropriate. The only way to guarantee she gets the message is to elect Jaime Lynn in November. Also we must elect Mike Grimes and Greg Windham too. Accountability comes in November.