By LeaAnne Klentzman
Since June, the “Star” has been telling readers about the political signs scattered across west Fort Bend County. It all started when complaints were filed against a sheriff’s deputy who is seeking the office of his boss. That candidate, currently the chief deputy, was posting 4’x8’ political signs all along the roadways across the west side of the county in violation of the Highway Beautification Act.
As reported, initially, he refused to comply with the law citing that the law was invalid and possibly a violation of his First Amendment right to free speech. After many letters and phone conversations between the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDot) and the candidate and his attorney; the case was referred to the Attorney General‘s Office.
On Monday August 1, 2011, the “Star” learned the investigation into the bandit signs was transferred from TxDot to the State Attorney General’s (AG) Office. The case was reportedly reviewed and like a thief in the night, the signs disappeared.
According to sources, the attorney assigned to the case traveled to Fort Bend County. Not only did he find that signs for the sheriff’s candidate were in violation, but so were several others posted along our highways. According to the statutes, no sign can be posted along a state road that is not permitted nor licensed, furthermore, no temporary political sign can be posted more than 90 days prior to the election cycle for which a candidate is seeking office. In short, political signs have a 100 days window; up only 90 days before the election and they must be down before the 10th day after the election. However, licensed or permitted signs are permissible. Billboards are an example of that type of regulated signage.
Initially, in an attempt to appease TxDot, candidate Brady had his personnel cover up his political signs with old Sheriff Wright signs, scotch tape, and binder clips. A wind storm exposed the sheriff and his deputy leaving their signs littering the highways. That following Sunday, July 30, deputies were seen out recovering the Brady signs with the Wright signs. Then just 4 days later, the signs disappeared all together leaving behind only the posts.
So for now, the political sign cover-up has ended and it appears that State law has trumped Brady law and his bevy of boardroom bullies.