Sheriff no longer required to make financial disclosures

There is a clear-cut pattern. Not only does the Sheriff acquire a large percentage of his campaign finances from mortgage lenders and land developers, he acquires lucrative gifts from them worth tens of thousands of dollars, an ethical no-no in a state where such gifts are limited to the value of $50.

Amid revelations that McLennan Sheriff Parnell McNamara’s land dealings in acquiring two lots in an exclusive development and extending a two percent deed of trust to a local banker for more than $800,000 on seven acres of commercial property, we stumbled on to another provocative finding.

The McLennan County Commissioners Court dropped a requirement they passed in 2012 for all department heads and Constitutional Officers to file a financial disclosure statement for scrutiny by the Texas Ethics Commission and the public.

As of May 26, 2015, the Sheriff is no longer required to disclose his real estate dealings, as he had previously. According to the minutes of the Court, this policy change was made to relieve certain department heads who have no such dealings from the necessity to file such detailed information for public scrutiny.

But under the provisions of the Texas Constitution, a County Sheriff is responsible for recording and conducting foreclosure sales on properties financed by mortgage bankers. When the housing bubble burst in 2008, knowledgeable observers nationwide learned pronto that most such filings are not only vague and difficult to interpret, most of them are completely bogus.

For instance, allegations of ownership of foreclosed property are secured in Sheriff’s sales by filings of “.docx” documents in the private files of lenders, and go unrecorded in public records of County Clerks. The title claims on millions of parcels are filed under the signature of the mysterious official, “Linda Green,” one of the busiest executives on record, who operates in 50 states.

Lenders can’t any more prove chain of title to properties financed under predatory lending policies at subprime rates that baloon later in the life of the agreement than you or I can. When one adds to this revelation the provision of a Texas Penal Code statute prohibiting bribery by proscribing a public servant’s acceptance of a lucrative gift from a constituent over whom he has direct jurisdiction, it raises the eyebrows.

But when there are multiple records of a long list of questionable transactions, including a pawn shop loan on a personal gun collection obtained through the gift of the widow of a local land developer at 240 percent vigorish, one longs for a forensic audit to explain exactly how all this works out for We The People.

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