|Left to Right - Jay Knight, Craig McNair and "FEMA Phil" Fitzgerald|
Here we go again Liberty County voters. It is not likely, but it is possible that we re-elect someone who in his past record of public service so publicly violated ethical behavior.
Since news story after news story from the Cleveland Advocate to the Houston Chronicle to all of the Houston television channels covered then Liberty County Judge Phil Fitzgerald’s million dollar plus arrangement with his brother-in-law to fill their pockets and profit off of the county’s response to a hurricane and FEMA money, this will be Fitzgerald’s third time to try to win elective office.
As amazing as it is that Fitzgerald thinks of himself as a viable candidate, if voters are new to the county or too busy to keep up with the news, he will be right there on the ballot for anyone to cast their vote for. The Republican Party has to allow him to run. In his first attempt to run after embarrassing scandalous news reports were broadcast all across southeast Texas attaching Liberty County to FEMA fraud when people were struggling just to get a roof over their heads and food for the day, Fitzgerald continued to run with President Obama as a Democrat as he asked voters to leave him in the cat bird’s seat as County Judge. Multiple scandals, including but not limited to stories about a mail theft and effort to fraudulently discredit a district judge and cash payoffs in the courthouse for unethical legal referrals left questions about Mark Beausoliel and Phil Fitzerald- questions that heretofore have left them unelectable, but not for a lack of trying.
The 2018 Republican primary ballot will include three men who have served one term as County Judge. Jay Knight, the incumbent, Craig McNair, the County Judge that was edged out when Judge Knight was elected, and Phil Fitzgerald. The unapologetic defiant County Judge before both of these men that spent some of his ill gotten gain wearing out the federal courts and successfully staying out of jail.
The Republican Party was never Fitzgerald’s home before because like a captain on a sinking ship he was so proud and considered it an honor to continue to run as a Democrat way beyond the time candidates that were really more like Republicans or those who did not care about party affiliation had switched. But after being stomped in a primary by an unknown carpetbagger, Fitzgerald ran in the party he had ridiculed time and again... as he ran and lost badly in a congressional race.
FEMA contracts for clean up can be quite lucrative and securing a bid is cause for celebration I suppose. Forced to allow Fitzgerald to spend more of his cash, Republicans have no choice but to print Fitzgerald’s name on the ballot. All three of the candidates can be very charming and have all had the public’s trust at one point. But Republicans need to make the rare move of informing the public that Fitzgerald’s charm needs to be kept in the private sector and no where near where Beausoliel’s stack of $100 bills or the county’s mail room or big contracts let by the county.
The voters, not the party, should choose the next county judge. But they deserve to know local Republicans who have worked hard to get competitive candidates to help make this county strong, did not seek him out and do not want him to be seen as representative of their efforts. The message should be, “Stop running for office Phil!” We have two candidates and either of them will make us proud. Be thankful for your freedom and avoid temptation.
By - Staff Contributor
By - Staff Contributor