After he lost his City Council seat four years ago, Richard Diaz outlined his concerns about local corruption in a detailed three-page complaint to the Zavala County district attorney.The DA said the Texas Rangers' investigation was "diligent," but it wasn't diligent enough to uncover wrongdoing. So how is it that the feds could get the job done? They found a "truckload of documents" they considered incriminating enough to seize as evidence and made numerous arrests.
“It was about the misuse of public property, and then, of course, they were (gassing) up their private vehicles from the city yard, and there were other violations of the charter,” Diaz said, referring to city officials.
“They talked to a lot of people who knew about this, and verified what I was saying, but for some reason they just dropped the investigation. They never told me anything,” he recalled.
District Attorney Roberto Serna, a Crystal City native, said he asked the Texas Rangers to investigate. In the end, however, after “a very diligent investigation, no prosecutable cases resulted,” he said.
The FBI, which later got the complaint, dug deeper and eventually hit pay dirt.
Observing the slew of corruption cases in Texas, Grits has been struck by the fact that they typically are only ever prosecuted when the federal government steps in. Is this because the Texas Rangers are incompetent to the task? Clearly they blew it in Crystal City.
Reported the Express-News, "The FBI in San Antonio also has seen a sharp increase in corruption cases, rising threefold to 64 open cases, between 2012 and 2014." But corruption is illegal under state law, too, and these are local officials, for the most part, catching these cases.
Why isn't Texas law enforcement able to identify and prosecute corruption? Is it because Texas DPS's enforcement and spending priorities are focused on patrolling the border region, which ironically is the safest area in the state, instead of on officials who violate the public trust? Or might Texas fail to confront corruption even without competing priorities, simply leaving the task to the feds because it's easier, and you get to blame Obama if things go bad? It's not like state and local law enforcement were pursuing these cases before the border buildup.
It's embarrassing that the feds keep finding and prosecuting serious corruption, especially in South Texas but also elsewhere, while state and local law enforcement can't or won't get the job done. Too bad some of that misspent border security money allocated by the Lege last session wasn't designated for this purpose. Corruption is a greater threat to security than the next landscape worker or nanny who may cross the border illegally.