Friday, September 05, 2008

"My days are numbered"

Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole said Thursday that he expects to be forced from office by an FBI investigation into corruption allegations that appears to be centering on the design of his home by a prominent retired architect.

The Precinct 4 commissioner said FBI agents have interviewed many of his friends, some as recently as this week. He said he expects to be called in for questioning soon and would not be surprised to be indicted, though he insists he is innocent.

"I guarantee they can take that information that they've got and the friends that they've talked to and they can make a case on me," said Eversole, who volunteered the update regarding the investigation when asked about recommended ethics changes at the county. "That's why I say my days are numbered. There's no doubt about it."

As the feds close in on him, let's reminisce:

The Harris County District Attorney's office is investigating Eversole's use of campaign funds to pay for collector-quality firearms and a trip to Florida. George Flynn, the office's spokesman, said he could not comment on the probe beyond confirming it was still under way.

The commissioner's $680,000 house in the Heights was designed by Leroy Hermes, whose former firm has been involved with county projects such as the Reliant Stadium complex and a new jail facility. The Republican commissioner said he had the home built in 2003 so he and his wife, who has cancer, would be closer to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Eversole also was criticized for labeling hundreds of campaign expenses with vague descriptions such as "public relations" and "misc," offering little clue as to what was purchased or who benefited from those purchases. Among his "public relations" expenses was the $6,850 trip to Florida.

After acknowledging long-running problems with his campaign finance reports, the commissioner began explaining his expenses in greater detail this year. He also asked former County Judge Robert Eckels to review his current and past filings to ensure compliance with state disclosure laws.

Eversole's money management problems began early on in his 17-year career as county commissioner. Fourteen years ago, when his questionable expense reports first earned him attention and then legal scrutiny, a Democrat named Jim Lindeman running against him tried to link Republican Eversole to ... Ted Kennedy and former House speaker Tom Foley. That gives you an idea how red Precinct 4 was gerrymandered. First, the Chronic with the executive summary, from the previous link:

Eversole was indicted in 1993 on charges of perjury and unlawful record-keeping related to nearly $90,000 in campaign expenses.

And all the way from October of '94 and the Houston Press, with the details:

(D)espite a counseling session early in his term from the district attorney's office on Election Code rules regarding contributions and gifts, Eversole spent his lavishly endowed campaign account wildly on golf clothes, gifts and even several firearms. He justified the clothing purchases as items to be auctioned off. Asked to explain why the clothes all seemed to be in his own sizes, he allowed that by wearing them he made them more valuable items at the charity events. He regularly submitted monthly credit card tabs to be paid from the campaign account, and included billings for golf greens fees that were paid by others. The spending spree and questionable documentation earned him eight indictments for perjury and false campaign reporting.

Wayne Dolcefino at KTRK deserves most of the credit for digging up the recent dirt on Eversole, and now burying him with it ...

In the last year and a half, Eversole has spent nearly $15,000 just at golf courses and golf stores using campaign funds. On his sworn campaign finance report, he usually calls it simply 'public relations.' "I don't think he bought public relations at a golf shop," said campaign finance expert Fred Lewis.

Lewis has seen lots of campaign reports.

" When you start spending it on things like clothes, books, and Internet at your house, an exercise club, and meal after meal, you're starting to get where you're either on the line or over it," he said.

Jerry Eversole had no opponent last year and isn't up for reelection until 2010. Yet he's spent a whopping $750,000 in campaign money in just 18 months.

Most of it on golf, golf-related apparel and items, and even coffee. So he skated through the thin ice once early on, has never had a respectable challenger since, and now over a decade later has been discovered doing the same thing. Makes you wonder what happened during the years between investigations, doesn't it? More on this from the Harris County Republican Rap Sheet.

So long, Jerry. You had a good run. Sorry about your wife.

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