DOJ: CLC & CREW Urge DOJ to Investigate Allegations of Public Corruption Against Texas Legislator/Political Consultant and Election Official
Today the Campaign Legal Center and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested a full investigation of a series of allegations of public corruption and possible violations of the Voting Rights Act by a Texas State Representative and a local election official. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, J. Gerald Hebert of the Legal Center and Melanie Sloane of CREW outlined the allegations against Representative Dwayne Bohac (District 138) and Harris County elections office employee Ed Johnson. The letter emphasized that the known facts "strongly suggest public corruption in Texas and in Harris County, but may also include violations of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws."
"The evidence indicates Mr. Bohac and others conspired to interfere with voting rights in violation of the law," said CREW's Melanie Sloan. "Because our democracy depends on free and fair elections, the Department of Justice should investigate."
"The facts speak for themselves and when there is such a clear conflict of interest for local prosecutors, the Department of Justice must step in to see that the laws on the books are enforced," said J. Gerald Hebert of the Legal Center. "We hope that DOJ will thoroughly investigate the facts in question in order to safeguard the process and to restore public confidence that elections are conducted freely and fairly."
The full letter to the Attorney General and a link to the attachments are below.
October 21, 2009
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Department of Justice
10th and Constitution Ave. NW
Washington DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
We write to request that the Department of Justice conduct an investigation into alleged illegal activity by Texas state representative Dwayne Bohac and an employee of the Harris County (Texas) elections office, Ed Johnson. The facts are set forth below and additional information is set forth in the attached documents. The basic facts are as follows:
- Texas State Representative Dwayne Bohac (District 138) served as the vice chair of the Elections Committee in the Texas House of Representatives. As such, he has a substantive role in drafting state election laws. Bohac continues to serve on the committee as a member drafting election laws. However, Bohac has kept hidden his outside business interest as a Republican political consultant. Accusations have recently surfaced concerning his role in the Elections Committee, asserting he has crafted laws to help his Republican clients win elections. See attached.
- Bohac is listed on the articles of incorporation as a principal of the Campaign Data Systems (CDS), a Republican campaign consulting firm that has charged its clients over $200,000 for its services. See attached articles of incorporation.One of CDS's clients is the local DA in Harris County, Pat Lykos, making it unlikely that the local DA would pursue an investigation and prosecution.Over the years, Bohac has worked in conjunction with Ed Johnson, his business partner at CDS. Johnson has testified at least eight times before the Elections Committee including bills that Bohac authored without disclosing their business relationship. Bohac also voted on this legislation, apparently in violation of the Texas Constitution, which states that any person who has a personal or private interest in any proposed or pending bill before the Legislature must reveal the relationship. Furthermore, such a person is forbidden from voting on any legislation in which they have either a personal or private interest.
- Bohac's questionable actions taken as a member of the Texas Legislature are numerous. During the 2005 legislative session, Bohac authored HB 1268, which requires a voter to check a new box when providing a Social Security number instead of a driver's license number. Although this does not seem nefarious on its face, the new law allowed voter registrars to reject any application in which new voters mistakenly checked or did not check the box (regardless of whether they met all other formal state law requirements for becoming a registered voter). Using this technical provision of HB 1268, Bohac's business colleague at CDS who also served as the Associate Voter Registrar in Harris County (Ed Johnson), rejected an estimated 70,000 registration applications from January 2006 through October 2008. About 40,000 of these rejections resulted from the provisions of Bohac's new bill. Conversely, Dallas County rejected only 1,800 applications during the same time period.
- CDS's website stated that the company's voter data file was bolstered by information taken from driver license records. See attached. The evidence suggests that Bohac may have obtained those records through Ed Johnson in an illegal manner. Texas law states that driver license records can only be obtained from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) upon signed agreement that they will not be sold or distributed to other individuals or groups. Records show that the Harris County Elections Department obtained and updated a database of Texas driver license records. Upon requesting those records from DPS, Ed Johnson in his official capacity as a Harris County election official signed an agreement on behalf of Harris County that he would not provide the information to others. Given that neither CDS, nor Bohac (nor any CDS client) requested or received records from the DPS, the evidence strongly suggests that that Johnson, together with Bohac, took the records requested by the Harris County Elections Office and then converted those data for their personal and business use at CDS, their private business entity. Neither Bohac nor Johnson has offered evidence that their political consulting company obtained the records from the DPS, which suggests that they illegally obtained the information to use for commercial purposes. Such an act would appear to violate both federal law and Texas law.
- During the 2008 election, Bohac's business partner Ed Johnson engaged in further activities that may have violated federal and state law. Harris County voter registrar Paul Bettencourt and his staff were in charge of reviewing about 7,000 provisional ballots that were cast by citizens in 2008 who were not listed on the Election Day voter rolls. Republican ballot board chair Jim Harding has alleged Bettencourt's staff, which includes Ed Johnson, altered numerous voting records using white correction fluid and also altered other information on voting records.
- Several elections were close enough in Harris County to have been affected by the 7,000 provisional ballots that Johnson and the registrar staff processed. For example, Republican Pat Lykos won her election for District Attorney by 4,784 votes, less than one-half of one percent. Candidate Lykos has ties with Bohac's business: she paid CDS over $7,000 for their consulting services. Similarly, Republican Ken Legler won the seat for State House District 144, winning the election by 902 votes. He also had ties with CDS, paying the firm $8,000 for their services.
These actions and other activities described in more detail in the attached documents, not only strongly suggest public corruption in Texas and in Harris County, but may also include violations of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws. We respectfully request that the Department of Justice investigate these matters and take appropriate action.
J. Gerald Hebert
Executive Director and Director of Litigation
Campaign Legal Center
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington