Friday, April 26, 2013

Withdrawn TDCJ board nominee is sister-in-law of chair

Crikey! Annette Raggette was not just TDCJ board chair Oliver Bell's business associate, a story this blog broke last week, it turns out she is his sister-in-law, though she allegedly didn't reveal it on her application for the TDCJ board job. Confirmed the Statesman's Mike Ward:
The union that represents prison guards in Texas on Friday called for the chairman of the prison system’s governing board to resign for trying to get his sister-in-law selected for a spot on the nine-member board.

Lance Lowry, president of the Huntsville-based Texas Correctional Employees Local of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, said Gov. Rick Perry — who nominated Annette Raggette to the prison board, then withdrew her name Wednesday amid the controversy — should ask for Bell’s resignation.

Lowry also asked for Travis County prosecutors to investigate whether any state laws were broken — whether nepotism laws cover board appointments and whether Raggette may have falsified a government document when she answered a question on the application form, and specified she was not related to any state official.

Bell is married to Raggette’s sister.
Grits thought the business relationship looked a little hinky, but I didn't see that coming. Not only did Raggette allegedly conceal her family relationship with the board chair on her application, an earlier story by Ward mentioned that "Bell was listed by Raggette as a reference on her application form." Did anyone check her references? At first blush, I thought Lowry's call for Bell's resignation was overkill. But upon reflection, perhaps it was just premature. It really depends on what Chairman Bell said when he was called by TDCJ or the governor's office as Raggette's  reference. Did he reveal the family relationship? Did he disclose that she was a long-time employee? And if TDCJ knew, why wasn't that on her public bio? If the chairman misrepresented anything to the people vetting Ms. Raggette - and I have no idea if that's the case - then that would justify calling for his resignation. At the moment, Grits doesn't feel like we've got enough information in the public realm to join Mr. Lowry in making that call. It's not inconceivable, though, my opinion could change depending on the answers to those questions.

The episode also raises questions about the quality of the vetting process for governor's nominees. Does any of this ever come out if this blog hadn't published a three-sentence post last Thursday before the Monday hearing about the business relationship and emailed it to members of the Nominations Committee, encouraging them to ask further questions? The information came up on the first page of a Google search on her name, for heaven's sake. How much vetting could really have been done? By TDCJ? By the governor's staff? By committee members' offices? The whole, tawdry near-miss deserves fuller investigation by either the Nominations Committee or perhaps the House or Senate Committees charged with TDCJ oversight. Either the family and business relationships should have been caught sooner or perhaps people knew and let it go with a wink.

See related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

So, what else is new? Hopefully more observant and concerned intelligence seekers. If you've been involved with TDCJ for any length of time, you know the whole system is rife with relatives, in-laws and business associates....businesses with questionable resources like products manufactured by the prison industry among other things. Cudos to the new senator who wan't afraid to verbalize what was already known.....Gov. P got busted!!!

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that other members of this elite, and well paid group, should be "re-investigated" just in case some compelling facts might have been "overlooked" when they were vetted.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure this is on TDCJ. The governor's office nominates these people and this woman has served on other state boards as well. Why would TDCJ be responsible for vetting her? This is clearly a function of Perry's office.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Campaing with Will Ferrel and still feel the burn, haven't laughed that hard in a while. While a comedy, it clearly shows the ins & outs of the shady side of politics.

Can you imagine Perry nominating folks he knows nothing about, neither can I. Can you imagine a nominations vetting committee not knowing anything about the folks they are vetting or their sole duty............

Gubertorial Corruption - Texas Style,(nepotism / cronyism / falsifying applications, conspiring to assist in a crime, etc...) Just like wrongful convictions, it's when everyone knows it's wrong but plays along, it's still wrong and in this case, it's a criminal act involving multiple players.

Texans' need to consider heading to Austin with brooms in hand or hide their heads back in the sandy loam. This can't be swept under the rug, revealed by the maid and covered up with a bigger rug and furniture like it never even happened.

In the words of Zackalackus, "It's a Mess!"

Anonymous said...

Don't y'all know that this isn't Gov. Perry's first appointment of Mrs. Raggette? She was on the Texas Medical Board. All of this is public record.