Legal Center Joins Suit Alleging Pay-to-Play Corruption in the Houston Independent School District

The Campaign Legal Center yesterday joined in a lawsuit alleging widespread corruption in the awarding of contracts by the Houston Independent School District (HISD).  The Legal Center joins the legal team representing a Houston construction contractor who was locked out of the school district’s construction contracts after refusing to participate in the Board of Trustees’ widespread “pay-to-play” scheme.

This case brings into the daylight the pervasive and egregious corruption within HISD. Trustee and former HISD Board President Larry Marshall was an elected public official who, along with others at HISD, regularly abused his position of trust by placing his own interests above those of the students and employees of the school district. As a member of the Board of Education, he was charged with a duty of loyalty in overseeing the expenditures of local tax dollars, bond money and federal funds for the benefit of the students and employees of the Houston Independent School District. But since at least 1999, the lawsuit alleges, Mr. Marshall used his position of influence to extract bribes from companies seeking to do business and contract with the district in exchange for preferable treatment and contracts. Persons or companies who dared to interfere with HISD's pay-to-play system were terminated, forced to resign or no longer awarded contracts at HISD. CLC’s client, Gil Ramirez Group, was just one such victim of this pervasive public corruption scheme. 

            “As the suit alleges, Board President Marshall apparently required contractors to pay  monthly bribes only nominally hidden behind consultancy ’fees’ to Marshall’s associate for services never performed,” said Campaign Legal Center Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert.  “These actions deserve public scrutiny and their day in court. “The public has a right to know how their public officials have abdicated their duties of loyalty and corrupted their public positions. This lawsuit, by bringing HISD’s longstanding pay-to-play corruption into the light, will be a major step towards eliminating corruption throughout HISD and rebuilding the public trust in that governmental institution.” 

            To read the Campaign Legal Center’s response to Defendant’s second motion for summary judgment, filed yesterday, click here.