State Rep. Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) and her husband are driving cars owned by a highway contractor doing millions of dollars of business with the state. All the while, Harper-Brown sits on the influential House Transportation Committee. Her husband claims the deal is pay for work he does separate from his wife, but others question the arrangement.
Harper-Brown lives in a modest house in Irving that has been appraised at $132,000, yet she drives a 2010 Mercedes Benz sedan valued at about $55,000. She and her husband own the house, but not the car.
State records show since her 2002 election, Harper-Brown has driven cars purchased by Durable Enterprises Equipment, a company owned by Jeffrey Bryan, of Arlington.
Bryan also owns Durable Specialties in Grand Prairie and Paradigm Traffic Systems in Arlington. The state comptroller’s office shows that over the last three years, they’ve done $12 million in work, like installing and managing highway cameras, for TxDOT. In one campaign picture, Harper-Brown can even be seen wearing a Durable Specialties jacket as she stands next to Bryan.
The Lone Star Project is all over this, as you might imagine. They’ve got a bunch of supporting documents for your perusal, and they make a provocative observation:
Earlier this year, former State Representative Terri Hodge was sentenced to a year in prison for accepting reduced rent and home improvements in return for official favors – less in compensation than it appears has been received by Linda Harper-Brown (Dallas Morning News, June 16, 2010). If it is proven that Linda Harper-Brown was given use of the car(s) in return for her actions as a legislator, she will be guilty of bribery.
That’s a big “if”, of course, though the WFAA story notes that information has been turned over to the U.S. Attorney in Dallas and state prosecutors in Austin. Even if there is something there, I would not expect any action until after the election, as that is the norm in these situations. Harper-Brown’s unpersuasive response is here, and BOR has more.