Klint Bush will continue to be suspended with pay from his job as Liberty County elections administrator for the next 60 days or until relevant developments occur in his criminal case. The five-person Liberty County Elections Commission met on Monday afternoon at the Liberty County Courthouse and heard from several of Bush’s supporters, including his pastor, father and election judges who worked with him during previous elections.
Bush, 39, of Hardin, who is charged with Abuse of Official Capacity and Theft of Property related to his service as president of the Liberty County Housing Authority, also spoke in his own defense, explaining to the Commission that he believes the charges against him for his volunteer service on the LCHA board have no bearing on his ability to serve as elections administrator. (Read more on the charges by clicking here.)
“I have served, assisted and worked to ensure the equality to both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Even though personally I may have a preferred political preference, I do believe in fairness and equal power for the parties, candidates and voters. You can ask each party chair in executive committee if they can attest to the impartial and fair treatment, and fair implementation of the election laws as the administrator, something finally both parties can agree on,” Bush said, standing before the Elections Commission and flanked by his pastor, Rev. Gideon Watson of Hardin Methodist Church.
As election administrator, Bush has administered more than 14 elections, including the “most hotly contested presidential race in American history and the highest voter turnout of our citizens.”
Sidelined now on administrative leave, Bush told the Commission that it has been difficult as it is his dream job and life’s work.
“I love every minute of representing Liberty County and her citizens. It gives me life, purpose and energy. Every day, my goal is to help people, no matter the obstacle,” he said. “Even being suspended and recently in the hospital, I still served the citizens of Liberty County by answering election questions from some of the citizens who were in the hospital with me, and jurisdictions who called my cell phone. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? I would never do anything, in any capacity of service, do anything wrong. With that being said, put me back to work is my request. I have the experience, the expertise, the commitment, and the passion for the citizens of this county and elections in this county.”
Bush’s father, Stephen, in comments to the Commission prior to Klint, said that his son should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
“We do believe that when this investigation comes to a close that Klint will be shown to be innocent of all these charges brought against him when the facts are presented,” the senior Bush said. “Klint’s personal life and private life cannot and must not be considered against him in this hearing. They have no place here.”
While failing to name the board member, Stephen Bush also accused one of the Commission members of bearing a grudge against his son.
“One member of this board has been overheard saying they can’t wait until he gets indicted. I believe that person holds a grudge against Klint and has no place in this hearing,” he said.
Pastor Aubrey Vaughan of Beulah Land Baptist Church in Tarkington voiced support for Bush and said he has been a “top notch” elections administrator.
“I have seen Klint work many times and really do a good job. I think he ought to go back to work, go back to pay. Many election judges who are here, and I don’t speak for all but I speak for a lot of them, would like to see him back at his job. Some of those worried about the integrity of the election, well, it’s been very high from what I have known. I have to stick to integrity and I have to stick with the truth as a pastor,” Vaughan said. “Since I have been here in Liberty County, we have been concerned about the county going the right direction, but I can see that it looks to be deteriorating and going the wrong way.”
Pamela Smith, who has served as an election judge for the Republican Party in the Hull-Daisetta area, also sang Bush’s praises at the meeting.
“I can say that having worked elections before and after Klint, there is a significant difference. The important thing is, his issue with his other thing – even though I think he is innocent – does not have anything to do with his job any more than if you were convicted or someone says you were speeding down the road or drinking and driving. You shouldn’t lose your job or be compromised,” Smith said.
Representing the Liberty County Democratic Party, Ron Blake spoke about Bush’s fairness to both Republicans and Democrats.
“I met Klint when he was the co-chair of the Republican Party. I felt like we had nothing to talk about. I was so wrong. I have never met anyone who has so much respect for civics and local government as Klint. Speaking as a voting precinct chair, I can tell you what Klint said is absolutely true. He treated the Democrats as if we were an equally valued part of this political landscape. He is a great individual,” Blake said. “I don’t want to call this a sham, but it’s pretty close. What he is being accused of has nothing to do with his office. Why pull him away from it? Please bring him back. We need him.”
After hearing the pleas from Bush’s supporters, the Commission met in executive session for roughly 30 minutes before reconvening the public meeting just before 5 p.m. Liberty County Democratic Party Chair Michael Mark, one of the Commission members, moved to continue Bush’s suspension with pay for an additional 60 days from Feb. 13, 2023.
“At the end of the 60 days, we reconsider our action today and we also reserve our right before the 60 days if relevant developments occur,” Mark said. His motion was seconded by Liberty County Tax Assessor-Collector Ricky Brown, another Commission member, with votes in favor coming from Liberty County Clerk Lee Chambers and Liberty County Judge Jay Knight, two other members. Emily Cook, who has a position on the Commission board as the chairman of the Liberty County Republican Party, abstained from voting. Cook served on the Housing Authority board with Bush, thereby creating a conflict of interest.
Bush will be back in the courthouse on Thursday, Feb. 16, for a bond revocation hearing before the Honorable Judge Chap Cain of the 253rd State District Court. According to the State’s motion to revoke Bush’s bond, Bush allegedly violated his bond conditions by meeting with Cook at each of their homes and communicating with her by phone on a few occasions.
The State is requesting that Bush’s bond of $30,000 be revoked and increased to $120,000 with new bond conditions amended and applied.