Montgomery County officials indicted on Open Meetings Act charges

By Jesse Mendoza
Community Impact Newspaper
Originally published June 25, 2016

Three members of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court were indicted on Texas Open Meetings Act violation charges related to negotiations regarding the county’s road bond election in November.

County Judge Craig Doyal, Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley and Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Clark were indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury June 25 and have since been released on bond, Doyal’s attorney John Choate said. Political consultant Marc Davenport, who previously worked on campaigns for Doyal and Riley, was indicted as well, special prosecutor Chris Downey said.

“Over the course of the past several months, the grand jury considered the testimony of numerous individuals and evidence obtained from a variety of sources,” Downey said. “They determined that probable cause exists to conclude that the three commissioners and Mr. Davenport violated the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Doyal and the commissioners are accused of negotiating details for the Montgomery County road bond election with each other and the Texas Patriots PAC via email in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. The act mandates that a quorum—or majority—of elected officials of a governing body must deliberate matters in an open meeting.

The road bond was approved by voters in November after projects—including the contentious Woodlands Parkway extension—opposed by the Texas Patriots PAC were removed from the bond. The bond received the committee’s support prior to the election.

Choate said he and Doyal will challenge the violation charges in court. He said he and believes accusations were politically motivated.

“Judge Doyal is one of the most honest, down-to-earth politicians I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” Choate said. “The judge and I cannot wait to get this to trial.”

The case will now be assigned to a district court where litigation will continue, Downey said.