Liberty County Elections Administrator Klint Bush is being held in the Liberty County jail. At a bond hearing on Thursday, Feb. 16, in the 253rd State District Courtroom of The Honorable Judge Chap Cain, Cain ruled that Bush will be remanded to the county jail until a grand jury determines whether or not he will be indicted on two criminal charges related to his position as the former chairman of the Liberty County Housing Authority, or pending trial.
Bush was arrested on Dec. 8, 2022, on charges of Abuse of Official Capacity, a third-degree felony punishable by imprisonment of 2-10 years, and Theft of Property, a second-degree felony punishable by imprisonment of 2-20 years. The investigation of Bush began in the fall of 2021 when Texas Rangers received a complaint about Bush’s alleged fraudulent activities concerning the Liberty County Housing Authority. Federal investigators with the HUD OIG were also assigned to the investigation.
After his initial arrest, Bush was released on bond, and bond conditions were set. That bond was revoked on Thursday by Judge Cain after three witnesses testified that Bush had violated his original bond conditions by continuing to have communications in person, by text and on the phone with Emily Cook, a former member of the Housing Authority, with whom he reportedly was having an intimate personal relationship.
Cook, who serves as the chairman of the Liberty County Republican Party, served on the LCHA until her term expired in December 2021. However, Bush’s bond conditions, which were set by 75th State District Judge The Honorable Mark Morefield, state that Bush is prohibited from having contact with any LCHA member from 2019 to the present.
In the hearing on Thursday, Liberty County Sheriff’s Cpl. Katrena Johnston testified about events on Feb. 3, 2023, that led to her being called to Bush’s home in Hardin. Johnston told the court that she was called by phone by Hardin Fire Chief Nic Nelson, who related to her that Bush was having a mental health emergency.
During Johnston’s visit to the home, Bush, who reportedly had one superficial cut to a wrist, asked Johnston if he could go to a back bedroom of the house before being taken to a medical facility. Johnston was wearing a bodycam that captured her entire visit, which was shown in the courtroom. The video showed a short interaction between Bush and Cook, the latter of whom was hiding in a back bedroom of the house, presumably trying to avoid being seen by sheriff’s deputies.
Johnston testified that she was unaware of Cook’s identity until much later when she was subpoenaed for court.
The next witness, Chief Nelson, testified that Bush had told him and several others about his bond conditions during a group call. According to Nelson, Bush mentioned being prohibited from communicating with Cook in the bond conditions, though he continued to do so on multiple occasions.
Nelson said that Bush, who still serves as a Liberty County ESD 7 commissioner, a board that oversees the Hardin fire department, told Nelson to go to Cook’s home in Liberty on one occasion because of a possible fire danger in a wall of her house.
Text messages between Nelson, Bush, Cook and others were entered into the evidence during the bond hearing. In one text, Nelson asked Cook if anyone had talked to Bush that day, to which Cook reportedly responded, “Oh, yes, we all did.”
When asked by Anna Emmons, court chief for the Liberty County District Attorney’s Office, if he had talked to Bush about going against the bond conditions and continuing to communicate with Cook, Nelson said Bush told him, “That’s one girl I would go to jail for.”
The third and last witness during the hearing was Russell Payne, managing editor of The Vindicator, a newspaper in Liberty. Payne admitted to being a close personal friend to both Bush and Cook, and their respective spouses.
He testified to seeing Bush and Cook sitting together and talking on a couple of occasions at the church they all attend in Hardin after the bond conditions were in place. Payne told the court that both Bush and Cook had confided to him details about their intimate relationship.
Payne said he was at Bush’s home during his alleged third mental health crisis on Feb. 3 and saw that Cook and her husband were there as well.
Emmons asked Payne if he had been involved with the second of the three crises on Jan. 22, 2023, and if anyone had called 911. Payne said he had spoken to Bush’s wife and Emily Cook, but was unaware if anyone had called 911.
Emmons then asked Payne if anyone had called 911 for assistance on Feb. 3 during Bush’s third mental health crisis. Payne said he wasn’t aware of anyone calling for help.
“Did you call 911?” she asked. He replied that he didn’t and that everyone was trying to help Bush without the situation becoming public.
“Because you didn’t want this court to know?” Emmons asked.
“It had nothing to do with this court. It had to do with his own personal business. The man was having a breakdown,” Payne said.
Payne said he would have called the DA if it meant getting help for Bush that day.
“Maybe you should have called the DA,” Emmons said.
“It’s not what we chose to do at the time,” Payne said.
Emmons asked Payne if everyone knew about the bond conditions and just chose to ignore them. Bush’s attorney, Gary Tabakman, objected to the question, and Cain overruled.
Payne responded by saying, “At this time, nobody was worried about bond conditions.”
Emmons asked Payne if he had observed Cook going into the bedroom of Bush’s home prior to law enforcement arriving on Feb. 3. Payne said he had not noticed her whereabouts.
Tabakman asked Payne if he was aware of the emotional stress that Bush’s relationship with Cook had placed on him, to which he responded, “Yes. I think it was crippling to him.”
After all witnesses had finished testifying, Tabakman said, “It’s very apparent and obvious that Mr. Bush and Mrs. Cook have had contact with one another, and were aware of the bond conditions. We have been meaning to address it with the court over the last month because we don’t believe that bond condition should have been in place to begin with, and it’s caused Mr. Bush a lot of distress. With that being said, the purpose of the hearing was not only to highlight that Mr. Bush and Mrs. Cook have been in contact, but highlight that Mr. Bush was experiencing an immense amount of stress and psychological issues that he has not been able to address over the last two months in an appropriate manner. Of course, his manner and means of doing so have been to reach out to friends and family members he relies on, including Emily. It’s a mistake. He acknowledges it. He made it. The cat’s out of the bag. I think this community now knows about this relationship that he and Mrs. Cook have been having. It’s a personal matter that has caused a lot of stress and anxiety in the two family units.”
Tabakman complained that he has not received one piece of discovery in the case. He also asked Judge Cain to admonish Bush and explain to him that the orders that are in place are serious instead of revoking his bond altogether.
Emmons told Cain that the DA’s office was requesting an increase in Bush’s bond to $120,000 to prevent further violations of the bond conditions.
“You have bond conditions in this case for a reason. I don’t want to get into the underlying case because it’s not why we are here. The bond conditions are put into place because of the entity that was stolen from, and the parties that were involved. One of the parties was Emily Cook, who was on the board. That’s why it’s listed as a bond condition. You have a public official, the defendant, who thinks he is above it and is going to snub his nose at it. And you have Emily Cook, who is an officer of the court as an attorney, also ignoring the bond conditions. The evidence shows they had contact numerous times,” Emmons said.
After hearing from both attorneys and the witnesses, Cain ruled that Bush would be remanded to the county jail and that his bond is revoked.
In his ruling, Cain said, “The court makes the following finding. Mr. Bush made multiple threats of violence or suicide, violence to himself primarily. Secondly, Judge Morefield set these conditions and they were proper bond conditions. One of those terms and conditions was that Mr. Bush not have any contact with the [LCHA] board members. The court further finds that Emily Cook is one of the board members. Mr. Bush was not supposed to have contact with Mrs. Cook, and he did so on multiple occasions. On at least three occasions, he had contact with her, and he was in full control, causing that. He has violated the bond conditions. He didn’t contest those conditions. If he didn’t want to follow those bond conditions, then he should have contested it. He should have requested a hearing to seek a modification, and he didn’t do that. He just very simply decided he didn’t have to follow the bond conditions set by the state district court and a state district judge.”
Bluebonnet News contacted Emily Cook to ask if she intends to step down from her position as chair of the Liberty County Republican Party. By phone, Cook said she is making a lot of of decisions with her family at this time.
Sources close to this case say that Liberty County commissioners court plans to meet next week to consider abolishing the position of election administrator. This comes just days after the Liberty County Elections Commission on Monday, Feb. 13, voted to extend Bush’s paid administrative leave. However, one of the stipulations in their ruling was that the Commission could rescind that decision if “relevant developments occur” in Bush’s case.
Really it’s not your business fire boy
We need the FEDs to come investigate Republican corruption in Liberty County. It must be something in the water or air because we have a special breed of corrupt Republicans in Liberty County.