A brief history of Houston-based political corruption

Nice overview of the political crime scene.

Houston’s political landscape is littered with careers wrecked or damaged by allegations of wrongdoing, and for watchers of the political scene, the sight of [County Commissioner Jerry] Eversole in cuffs likely rekindled memories of fabled transgressors of yore.

“Brilab,” Sharpstown, former City Councilman Ben Reyes and former County Commissioner Bob Eckels — all conjure images of the fallibility of politicians under temptation.

Rice University political science chairman Mark Jones attributed some of the corruption that has tainted local politics to the “freewheeling culture” that pervades the city and state. There is such interaction between businessmen and politicians, he said, that it does not seem strange when an elected official is treated to dinner or lunch.

“Then golf,” Jones said. “Then a luxury suite at the game. Then paying off a mortgage. … It’s a slippery slope.”

I should note that the Bob Eckels mentioned above is not the County Judge that preceded Ed Emmett, but his father. Most of the names and cases cited in this story will be familiar to anyone who’s lived around here for awhile, but it’s a good refresher anyway.

The story was of course inspired by the recent woes of Jerry Eversole, to which Rick Casey added a nicely stinging assessment of Eversole’s claim that the feds were criminalizing his friendship with Mike Surface.

Eversole’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, says, “It is not against the law to be friends (or) to do mutual things on behalf of friends.”

They’re right. Which makes me blue.

My friends are nice guys and gals, mainly.

But they never take me on expense-paid golfing trips to Arizona and New Mexico. Or to Las Vegas. Or South Carolina. Or San Antonio. Or Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota. Or Reno.

Nor do my friends buy me thousands of dollars worth of guns.

And the last time I bought a house, not a single friend gave me a cashier’s check for $63,000 to help pay for it.

What’s more, none of my friends chipped in $27,000 for the landscaping.

I can’t remember the last time a friend bought me a thousand-dollar suit.

It’s my fault, of course. I’m not that good a friend to them.

I’m not in a position to vote for multimillion dollar contracts for them, or to appoint them to sports authority boards and such.


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