By on July 6, 2010

For years it had been a mystery how the Texas House of Representatives, 83 percent of whose members voted to ban photo enforcement, could nonetheless endorse the use of red light cameras. An ethical storm that broke around state Representative Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) last month provides the answer. Harper-Brown, a Transportation Committee member, accepted unreported gratuities from a traffic camera firm in return for playing the decisive role in establishing the automated ticketing industry in the Lone Star State.

Over the course of four legislative sessions from 1995 to 2003, the House outright rejected all attempts to give legislative legitimacy to intersection ticket cameras. There simply was no way to pass the legislation in an open floor vote. The industry turned to Harper-Brown, who willingly snuck a one-sentence provision allowing municipalities to issue “civil” citations for traffic crimes into unrelated legislation dealing with commercial motor vehicle standards. Most House members did not notice the provision until it was too late and were furious at what they saw as an underhanded move — the vote to strip Harper-Brown’s language passed by a three-to-one margin. The state Senate leadership, however, protected the cameras by using a parliamentary maneuver. Governor Rick Perry (R) did nothing to undo Harper-Brown’s work.

The Texas Values in Action Coalition (TEXVAC), a group that supports Democratic candidates, filed corruption charges with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas after it learned that Harper-Brown had been driving luxury vehicles paid for by a firm that tried to land lucrative traffic camera contracts. Harper-Brown drives a black 2010 Mercedes E550 sedan with official state license plates, a fact confirmed on video by WFAA-TV in Dallas. Paradigm Traffic Systems and Durable Specialties, firms owned by Jeffrey C. Bryan, provided another E-Class and a 2004 Chevy Tahoe to Harper-Brown and her husband William Brown.

“Unless there are facts that we could not uncover from the public record, it appears that Harper-Brown has engaged in a systematic and ongoing violation of the public trust where she has used her position on powerful committees in the Texas House to enrich herself and her friends,” Ed Cloutman, an attorney representing TEXVAC, said in a statement.

Harper-Brown defended her actions, saying that her husband’s work with Durable predated her election to the House by eighteen years and that his work is completely separate from hers. She insisted that her official financial disclosure is “complete, current and accurate,” even though it does not mention the free automobiles.

“You see, my husband and I have taken extra steps to make sure my personal financial statements fully comply with the law,” Harper-Brown said in a video statement. “And we keep our business interests completely separate to avoid any kind of conflicts. I’ve always been a fighter for open and transparent government. I won’t let some sleazy attacks from Washington, DC liberals stop me from fighting… They say anything to win so they can advance their partisan agenda.”


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19 Comments on “Texas: Mystery Of Red Light Camera Legislation Solved...”

  • avatar

    I say the facts speak for themselves. You Texans are a bunch of stupid, apathetic jerks that deserve to be repeatedly ticketed unless you vote the bitch out and investigate her, her husband, and Perry. Shame on her for reading from the Republican playbook and dealing the “libruls ‘r out ta git me” card, too.

  • avatar

    We should allow them to resign their Statehood. Or we could just give Texas to Mexico.

    • 0 avatar

      Sadly many Texans would be OK with independence. You forget that’s the state where when their citizens travel overseas they usually describe themselves as Texans before saying they’re Americans.

      Of course given Texas’ past history, as a New Mexican, I’d be afraid the new Nation of Texas would invade us and march on Santa Fe.

    • 0 avatar

      Texas would be far more likely to invade Arkansas, as they’ve repeatedly said that they want our water. And women, they want our women. Having traveled extensively in Texas, I can only say it would be an improvement in the gene pool.

    • 0 avatar

      Or, just to really piss Texas off …. maybe we (the US) should annex Mexico. Having lived in Texas for a few years, I know that move would likely cause a huge stir. They were pissed off enough when Alaska took their “biggest state” title away (well, we’re the biggest in the continental US). I believe Mexico would move them into third place overall and second in the continental US.

      Further details on this Geo-Political move are the subject of another thread …….

  • avatar

    What? She’s blaming partisan DC liberals for this? I hardly think that’s going to fly. Banning traffic cameras is a small-govt Tea Party type issue. Stupid corrupt bish, she sould indeed be fired AND prosecuted.

  • avatar

    “I won’t let some sleazy attacks from Washington, DC liberals stop me from fighting… They say anything to win so they can advance their partisan agenda.”
    My friends, let us all remember this: it is those darn “Washington, DC liberals” with a “partisan agenda” that are the trouble.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sounds like somebody might have greased the wheels of democracy.

  • avatar

    Texas should return to their good old days where a mob would march down to her office, drag her into the street, and have her tarred and feathered.

  • avatar

    Yeah, what’s with all the Texas hate? And having lived there, I can say the women are generally very hot and nice too.

    And while she should be busted, her type of corruption is far less than the trillion dollar taxpayer ripoffs going on in our nation’s capital. Here in New York, her actions would have been considered normal and likely never even brought to light.

    • 0 avatar

      By God, it IS those Northeastern liberals!

    • 0 avatar

      The improprieties of Ms. Harper-Brown, though fairly small potatoes when compared to the felonious slime of Washington, are still pretty significant for the good people of Texas. I certainly hope she gets what she deserves but who knows… And the fact that she got away with this shows how these misfits (other politicos) protect their own. Even when they’re pissed off at them. Sad.

      As far as Texas hate goes, don’t forget that just about everyone in Texas automatically hates you if you happen to live above the Mason/Dixon line.

    • 0 avatar

      Texas is one of those places where you’re alright, if you’re all white. My family’s stateside home is in Texas and I’m in the DFW area for extended stays. I’ve had friends of different ethnicities and nationalities come to visit and hang out at the house and the walkaway impression of Texans’ friendliness seems to be very dependent on the shade of one’s skin.

  • avatar

    Now we know the going price for a Texas official

    1 Merc (60k) + 1 Suburban (50k) = legislation worth 12mm in contracts

    so 110k for 12mm? Seems like a good trade, outside of the fact this is the definition of corruption

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Ya know..

      I’m not going to go any sexist tirades… even though there IS some truth there.

      An E-Class MB and a Tahoe / Burban.
      Both are generic vehicles.. that ya could get for cheap, I guess that’s where her value lies.. — CHEAPLY.
      Least ya coulda done is buy a E Class AMG WAGON.. and some decent GMT 900 platform… derivative!

  • avatar

    Once again we have proof that we have the best government money can buy. With election or re-election being a product of amount spent on campaigning everything those seeking public office do is directly linked to getting campaign money. The euphenism for bribery is lobbying but it’s all the same. None of this will change until the only money they can use for election is provided by public funds and no other campaign monies are allowed. People may support their favorite politician by volunteering to work for the campaign but no one would be allowed to work for a campaign as a paid worker, regardless of who is paying them. Oops sorry I forgot any changes in campaign funding would require approval of those very people who are on the take.

  • avatar

    Well, we should see it done by the book.

    1) did her husband really work with the red light camera company for 18 years before her election
    2) at his employment level does his job description include not one but two moderately expensive company cars and can the company point to any other executive with a similar arrangement
    3) is Texas so stupid that they don’t require that legislators recuse themselves from anything related to a relative’s business or employment

    I’ll bet there’s a gotcha on 2), but maybe not 3). And given many legislatures write their own ethics rules, sadly, you might even get away with 2).

    Also, while it is no excuse, look up how Tom and Linda Daschle worked both sides of the street during the time when he was a Senator (D). Tar and feather them, Donk and Republican alike. You wouldn’t have to go far from Texas to find an abundant source of tar balls and oily seabird feathers.

    Just my $0.02 from RI, always a contender for the title of most corrupt state. As Lincoln Stephens said more than 100 years ago, RI is for sale, and for sale cheap. Still, its been hard to beat NJ or LA the last few decades.

  • avatar

    I doubt that the court case will go far. It would be darn hard to prove a quid pro quo without recordings where she promised to help them in exchange for gifts. Heck, they couldn’t prove anything against the Keating five even with Keating’s testimony that he cetainly did expect some favors in exchange for his contributions. It didn’t even stop Alan Cranston (Dem, CA), John Glenn (Dem, OH), or John McCain (Rep, AZ) from being re-elected shortly after the excrement hit the fan. It seems that no matter how dirty and sleazy you are, there is always a majority of voters willing to vote for the encumbent just so long as you promise them the right things.

    • 0 avatar

      However, the financial disclosure statements could be her downfall. Texas, while hardly pristine, has pretty good transparency. Much better than the People’s Republic of NY…

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