At an earlier legislative hearing Bradley had openly snubbed Public Safety Committee Chairman Tommy Merritt, so the no-show only comes as a partial surprise. Rep. Lon Burnam is also on that committee and I'm sure Bradley knew they'd come loaded for bear. But even if one doesn't respect the officeholders, one should respect the institution: This is the Committee has jurisdiction over Bradley's agency and I don't personally recall ever hearing of an agency head who refused to submit to legislative oversight.
The Texas Tribune's Morgan Smith and Christy Hoppe at the Dallas News covered the event, both citing sharp, bipartisan criticism of the chairman in absentia. Between them they provide a good account. In particular, reports Hoppe:
Smith notes that Bradley's "fellow forensic board members who did appear distanced themselves from Bradley under questioning by the board."
The lawmakers wanted to hear about changes that Bradley has attempted to institute – including asking his fellow commissioners to destroy most of their e-mails after a day and to not speak with the media. He also has sought to discontinue the commission's practice of allowing members from the public to address them during their meetings, his colleagues said.
Such directives "really undermine public confidence. That's what we're asking about," said Rep. Stephen Frost, D-Atlanta.
Perhaps soon I'll find time to watch the archived video of the questioning, which apparently ran about an hour and a half, and have more to add on the subject. The portion of the hearing pertaining to the Forensic Science Commission begins around the 1:36:00 mark. In the meantime, here is some of Grits' recent coverage of the controversies they're talking about, particularly involving the Commission's most recent meeting in January:
- Hectoring approach works for John Bradley at Forensic Science Commission, for now
- Forensic Science Commission meets today, but does it have rulemaking authority?
- Saying 'no' to John Bradley
- Bradley violated Open Meetings Act at forensic hearing
- Texas should strengthen standards for admitting forensic evidence