Friday, October 4, 2013

I Am Shocked Part II By Fort Worth Star-Telegram Journalistic Ethics Violations

Two days ago in a blogging titled I Am Shocked Regarding New TRWD Ethics Violation Allegations I mentioned that the Star-Telegram was working on an article about a complaint filed with the Texas Ethics Commission regarding last May's Tarrant Regional Water District board election, targeting John Basham, Mary Kelleher, Timothy Nold and Monty Bennett as the alleged perpetrators of the ethics violation.

I wondered, at the time I learned about this upcoming Star-Telegram report, how it was that the Star-Telegram knew about this complaint prior to those being complained about knowing about it.

Yesterday, October 3, the aforementioned Star-Telegram article, titled Ethics complaint filed on campaign cash in water district races was published.

The Star-Telegram article sort of raises more questions than it answers and, as is the norm for the Star-Telegram, once again brings into question that alleged newspaper's journalistic integrity.

To re-cap the pertinent points I blogged about in I Am Shocked Regarding New TRWD Ethics Violation Allegations...

Jerry Jenkins filed the complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission. Jerry Jenkins is a neighbor of TRWD Board Member, Jack Stevens. Jerry Jenkins has allegedly had business dealings involving attorney Lee Christie. Lee Christie is an attorney for the Tarrant Regional Water District.

Despite what you just read in the above paragraph we learn in the Star-Telegram article that "Jenkins said he doesn’t have ties to the candidates but followed the election closely as a private citizen and objected to the way the campaign contributions were handled."

Also in the Star-Telegram article we learn "Jerry Jenkins, who operates a machinery business in Azle, filed the complaints Monday alleging that contributions totaling $125,000 to a political action committee from Dallas businessman and rancher Monty Bennett were improperly reported on campaign forms before the money was distributed to three board challengers, according to the complaint."

If I recollect correctly the issue of the campaign contributions from Monty Bennett came up during the election via attack mailings sent by the TRWD incumbent candidates as part of their smear campaign that started smearing when they realized the BNK's mailings were gaining traction with the voters.

If by some technicality the contribution by Monty Bennett, and dispersal of funds, was allegedly not properly reported how did this private citizen, Jerry Jenkins, come to have possession of this information? It certainly could not have come from any of the hard hitting articles he read in the Star-Telegram covering that election.

Who could possibly be the source of this misinformation about the alleged mishandling of campaign funds?

Did the Star-Telegram's reporter ask Mr. Jenkins how he came to acquire his belief that something unethical had occurred?

Why did the Star-Telegram reporter not find it of interest that Mr. Jenkins' neighbor is TRWD board member, Jack Stevens? And that Mr. Jenkins has allegedly had business dealings with an attorney who is also an attorney for the TRWD?

As for the Texas Ethics Commission. Every 90 days Adrian Murray gets a notice telling him they are still investigating his ethics complaint regarding the TRWD's unethical use of public funds to send voters a slick 10 page mailer at the height of the election campaign touting the virtues of the TRWD.

Adrian Murray's ethics complaint would seem to be fairly easy to parse. He was certainly not the only local voter to make note of what seemed to be a total impropriety by the TRWD.

I can not help but wonder if the Texas Ethics Commission is not yet one more Texas agency co-opted by foxes taking over the henhouse....

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