Do birds of a feather flock together?
By LeaAnne Klentzman
Is a man really known by the company he keeps?
Does it matter where a politician’s money comes from?
Those and many other questions have surfaced about candidates in this 2012 Fort Bend Sheriff’s race.
In the last 20 years, money has become the motor that drives a political campaign. Gone are the days when ability, character, or integrity makes a difference; we have seen it right here in this election cycle.
It all started with a premature announcement, followed by the inability to follow rules – – resulting in sign wars and now catapulting the race into a whole new stratosphere of fundraising.
It began less than a month after Sheriff Milton Wright took office for his last term on January 1, 2009 when it was announced that his chief deputy would be seeking his office – in 4 years. That was new, and quite early, even by Fort Bend County standards.
In July of 2009, Brady filed his first contribution and expense report. When that report was filed, Fort Bend County got a whole new perspective on just how much money Brady was willing to spend. Little did anyone know what would come next.
In that first report Brady indicated that he had begun raising money for the 2012 election on January 29, 2009. During that 6 month cycle, the lone man in the race for a job that was four years down the road, Brady raised $27,125, spent $13,246.19 and maintained $19,408.81.
He also listed pledges – – four of them; one from his Houston attorney for $10,000; another from a Rosenberg mobile home mover for $50,000; a third from his parents for $100,000; and the pledges were rounded out with a final $25,000 from an uncle in Bryan.
That is a total of $185,000 in pledged monies that can not be easily tracked.
According to the Texas Ethics Commission, once that money is listed as a pledge, the candidate can use it in the campaign without ever having to list it again. So, there does not really appear to be any way to track that money.
In the years that have passed, as the campaign finance reports are submitted, the Star has gotten copies of each.
Each time we review the reports and see which of the contributors have been in the Fort Bend County Jail. Interestingly, one of the pledge donors has been in Mr. Brady’s jail twice, Mr. Bobby Freeman, although both times the charges against him have been dropped.
Some of the other contributors that have garnered our attention are folks that we know have criminal histories from when we reviewed contributions to the current sheriff, Milton Wright.
One of those men is John Hamilton of Fulshear. He contributed heavily to Wright and has been generous to his friend Brady. Brady and his then jailer wife personally delivered Hamilton’s convicted felon daughter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after she kept violating her parole for vehicle manslaughter – – that after a TV exposé; pleading for justice from the victim’s daughter; and a demand letter from a District Judge. That contributor is a convicted Federal Felon who did time for bank fraud according to federal court documents out of Galveston. If you want to see the documents for his fines look here: He was convicted in the US Federal Court in Galveston and the documents of his fines are here: http://ccweb.co.fort-bend.tx.us/RealEstate/SearchImage.aspx. If you want to see when he was released from the federal prison go here: http://www.bop.gov/iloc2/InmateFinderServlet?Transaction=NameSearch&needingMoreList=false&FirstName=john&Middle=hugh&LastName=hamilton&Race=W&Sex=M&Age=&x=67&y=16 it will show that he was released in July of 1995. Interestingly, in the years that have passed since we began reporting on Hamilton and his connection to the Sheriff and Brady much of the information has been removed from our county reporting system and some has aged off the federal system.
Although this contributor has only given shy of $6,000 dollars on recent reports, he has been financially challenged over the last few years since he is again involved in other federal proceedings.
Another large contributor with a past listed in the criminal courts in Harris County is a Richmond business man, Ronald Bartee, who has openly contributed nearly $30,000.
For a look at his background and 1998 charge of Bribery in Harris County look here: To find his records: www.hcdistrictclerk.com go to criminal tab, type in Bartee Ronald or case number 077409601010-3, then click on the name and view the records.
For another charge, click on the criminal history box and review that information. Both cases have been resolved.
The 1998 Bribery case was in the 262 Harris County District Court and the other charge of theft by check was in the 5th Harris County District Court in 1985.
Another large contributor is a retired businessman who by all accounts is a really nice guy who lives in west Fort Bend County named Wiley Hatcher. He appears to like the figure of $5,000 since on 1/25/11, 7/25/11, 9/28/11, 10/13/09, and 10/21/09 he donated a total of $25,000.
His Reckless Driving and DWI charges can be seen here: http://www.co.fort-bend.tx.us Go to online services and select county clerk in the next window, select criminal case records, then enter Hatcher Wiley and hit enter. Both cases will come up. for further information on which Judge was on the case, click on the blue case number at the top and read through the case for DWI #1. Google Hatcher v. State 12/14/1995. The appeals court information is there.
According to the listings, his 2004 DWI- 2nd offense was dismissed and his 2005 charge of reckless driving was handled with a nolo plea. However, with this much money involved in a political race, it begs the question, why?
These are just a few examples of the listings that stood out during our review of Craig Brady’s contributor and expense reports. You can see these at this link.
In the years since Brady announced that he was seeking the Republican nomination for Sheriff in 2012, according to his reports he has raised at total of $497,743.47. He has spent a total of $410,561.62 and shows to have $32,056.96 on hand. However, that math could be as faulty as the Sheriff’s UCR Reports.
According to Brady’s last report he took in $128,140 and spent $98,561.67 claiming to have $32,056.96 on hand. However, if you take 98,561.67 from 128,140 it should be 29, 578.33. And the contributions have not stopped.
As far as the other candidates in the race, Troy Nehls has raised a total of $93,091 since announcing in late 2011. He has spent $106,137.54 and loaned himself $8,000. To date he reports having $5,820.04 cash on hand. A criminal history did not seem to be an issue with Nehls’ contributors.
The businessman candidate John Minchew has raised a total of $10,120 in three reporting periods. He has spent $20,574.41 and shows $2,691.68 on hand in cash.
The Texas Lawman Billy Frank Teague has run the most austere campaign. His reports indicate that he loaned himself $2,000. He has raised $250 in cash and spent $1,250 for his filing fee and another $224 leaving $526 on hand in cash.
There will likely be a run off and then in November, the Republican nominee will face Democrat Michael Ellison.
The 2012 race for Fort Bend County Sheriff may likely hit $1 million dollars in total before it is all over, for a job that pays just over $100,000 per year; which by the way is a pay cut for the current chief deputy.
So, does it really matter where a politician’s money comes from? Is a man known by the company he keeps? We will be one step closer to the answer to that question in the wee hours of May 30th.