Liberty County commissioner indicted for hiring son of another commissioner

Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski (File photo)

A Liberty County grand jury has indicted Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski on a charge of Nepotism. The indictment was confirmed by Karbowski Monday night by phone.

Karbowski claims the charge stems from the 8-month employment of the son of Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur. The son worked as a welder on a project to build metal cabinets that were intended to be used for the evidence room at the county jail, according to Karbowski.

“I didn’t actually hire him. I don’t hire anyone who works for me because I believe in the chain of command,” Karbowski said. “My superintendent takes applications and he decides if he wants to hire a person or not. I do have the overall hiring authority though after he approves them.”

Karbowski claims that before Arthur’s son was hired, he sought legal advice from the county attorney’s office. When asked to comment on the indictment, County Attorney Matthew Poston declined, saying only that he has requested a legal opinion about the matter from the Attorney General’s office.

In the letter, Poston asks for clarity for conflicting prior opinions by the AG’s office on similar matters. One opinion, JM-801 in 1987, asserts that “the commissioners court has authority to approve or disapprove the hiring decisions of an ex officio road commissioner.”

“Nepotism would apply, therefore, if a commissioner hired another’s son,” Poston wrote. “A subsequent opinion [DM-158 in 1992] took the opposite view … ‘However, we believe that [JM-801] incorrectly concluded that ‘[n]othing in the statutory language or the legislative history indicates that the 1981 amendment was intended to prevent the commissioners court from exercising supervisions’ over an ex officio road commissioners’ individual hiring or firing decisions.'”

The opinion concluded that, “Rather, we feel that the statutory language and legislative history of the 1981 amendment clearly evidence the legislature’s intent to delegate the authority to hire and fire road and bridge employees to the ex officio commissioner, once the commissioners court has authorized the employee positions.”

Poston ended his letter by saying, “In summary, it appears that there is a conflict between prior opinions of this office. Opinion DM-158 appears to nullify the foundation reached by the prior opinion, JM-801, but it stops short of nullifying its conclusion. In the context of an ex officio road system county, does DM-158 render application of the nepotism statute impossible to a situation where one commissioner hires the prohibited relative of another?”

For Karbowski, the timing of the indictment raises its own questions about why the charges were presented to the grand jury before the AG’s opinion was received.

“I think it’s all political. They know they aren’t going to get a conviction, but it’s going to cost me about $20,000 to $30,000 because I will still have to hire an attorney,” the commissioner said. “If I broke the law, it wasn’t intentional. I assumed that asking the county attorney if it was right, that I was in the clear.”

With Poston not issuing a statement on the indictment, Bluebonnet News cannot confirm Karbowski’s assertion that he sought a legal opinion from the county attorney prior to hiring Arthur’s son.

“It’s all bull. It’s in retaliation for me not voting in favor of a certain law firm for the County’s tax collection cases,” Karbowski said. “I asked the wrong questions.”

The charge of Nepotism is a Class B misdemeanor. If he is convicted, he will be forced to resign from his office.

Karbowski says he will surrender to law enforcement this week and will seek a personal recognizance bond.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Just used these famous words as Phil Fitzgerald did! I didn’t know I did anything wrong! You will get you out of trouble!

  2. This seems like typical small town politics on his face. What could possibly be wrong about a relative of someone seeking to perform a service for the county government? obviously this person wasn’t hired in secret because the Bluebonnet news and the district attorney knew about it.

  3. “The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”
    Will Rogers

  4. Liberty County is so sad. Mr. Karbowski is a great Liberty County Commissioner that works hard for our county. Come on Liberty County what’s wrong with you people.

  5. As far as I’m concerned this is a bunch of bull. That a person couldn’t be hired for a position because he’s kin to someone else. That sounds fair in a county of our size with limited job resources in any way that he would be held back from holding a position because he has family that’s work there. I think it’s a shame that someone would want to smear this man’s name just for political reasons probably because they want someone else in that position let’s get real

  6. Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
    Romans 13:1‭-‬2 ESV

    Father, we ask that you expose all corruption and deception in our Country,
    Give us leaders that are led by you and remove the ones that only have self seeking desires, Raise up leaders that are not scared of men, but would rather please you. We need your help in Liberty County as well as every where else.

    Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.
    Matthew 18:19 ESV

    • Be it that our choices are already Trump and Biden, and the given state of unrest in our country your prayer is WAY OVERSHOOTING THE REALM OF REALITY.

  7. Generally if the corruption was real the individual is overpaid. I.e. Mayor Turners $96k p/yr intern. If the compensation was average and his work was satisfactory then this would seem like a “WITCH HUNT”.

    • We need to find out who referred this to a grand jury and read the indictment, which should be public record. Why is a possible class b misdemeanor going to a grand jury in the first place? And no offense intended but I’m not sure why do you think 96,000 dollars is overpayment for a government position? That’s not a very high salary in the market today.

  8. Let look at the real truth here. There’s reason for rules and regulations that must be followed by all of us. No one is above the law. I don’t work for a government agency but I would never put a family member and or a friend in a position at the company I work for. Sooner or later it complicate things. 8 months welding to fabricate cabinets on our tax dollar in not acceptable. Per Liberty County we have no money in our budget for EMS. The county cut back so much on what’s to be provided to the tax payers it’s so unfair. GOD forbid one of us have a family emergency and you need an ambulance….last I read 2 ambulances for the entire county. Come on people where are our priorities. I looked at the check register and the county is spending our tax dollars 4 to 5 Millions dollars a month in a lot of things that are raising concerns…At the end of the day we are entitled to our own opinions. I feel it’s starts this way and it starts to get worst. We only can make change every 4 years and remember it’s time to watch our politicians. AntiSlapp

  9. Eight Months to build Cabinets! In Eight Months I could have built Noah’s Ark! This sounds Criminal! Where else or who else got to borrow this Welder for their farm or Ranch. You know how that goes!

  10. This discussion is a great forum in my opinion, and I’m thankful we are using it. There are many things we need to look into in Liberty county, not the least of which is the appraisal district. However my point simply is that in spending county resources to indict and prosecute someone for something they initially received legal approval for, and which could only result in a class b misdemeanor is malfeasance at best and a gross misapplication of government at worst.

    • Why run for office if you can’t help friends and family? In Texas, George Parr, the Duke of Duvall, and his Democratic political machine led the way in helping their friends and family.
      Parr helped LBJ win his Senate seat in 1948. Helping people is an old Texas tradition.

  11. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened here! Fitzgerald, Groce, Miksch, McCarty. Groce was accused of nepotism and kickbacks for kicking business to the firm his son worked for and was the sales rep for the county. I believe that was tax collection related as well. I wonder if it’s the same law firm?
    There may be something to that comment by Karbowski. I think that is some pretty big business. Something like a 7 figure contract for our county.

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