Jailed Liberty County Elections Administrator Klint Bush is out of a job after county commissioners abolished the Elections Administration Office in a special-called meeting on Monday, March 20. Abolishing this office will return all election operations to the County Clerk’s Office except for the voter registrar duties, which will return to the Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office.
Bush has been in the Liberty County Jail since Feb. 16, 2023, for violating bond conditions for two criminal charges against him relating to his previous position as the chairman of the Liberty County Housing Authority. On Dec. 8, 2022, Bush was initially arrested on charges of Abuse of Official Capacity and Theft of Property following an investigation that began in the fall of 2021 when the Texas Rangers received a complaint about Bush’s alleged fraudulent activities concerning the Housing Authority.
Following his initial arrest, he was suspended with pay, which included an auto allowance. He has continued to be paid by the County since his second arrest on Feb. 16. The Liberty County Elections Commission – a five-person committee comprised of County Judge Jay Knight, County Tax Assessor-Collector Ricky Brown, County Clerk Lee Chambers, Republican Party Chairman Sherial Lawson and Democratic Party Chairman Michael Mark – met last week to consider terminating Bush, but they took no action.
County commissioners had intended to meet the next day to ratify the Election Commission’s actions, but as none were taken, the meeting was canceled. Instead, a special commissioners court meeting was planned for Monday to abolish the office.
In making a motion to abolish the elections administration office, Pct. 2 Commissioner Greg Arthur said, “I don’t think this is something that any of us want to do, but at this point I feel like we are limited on our choices, so I make the motion to abolish the office of elections administrator.”
His motion was seconded by Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson. Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski and Pct. 3 Commissioner David Whitmire voted in favor of the motion.
The Court’s decision came with a caveat: Liberty County will be prevented from reestablishing the elections administration office for a period of at least two years due to state law.
As the meeting came to a close, Anita Sikes, the only full-time employee remaining in the Elections Administration Office, told Bluebonnet News she had voluntarily resigned. Since Bush was originally charged, Sikes and her family, including her father, Pastor Aubrey Vaughan of Beulah Land Baptist Church in Tarkington, have been vocal supporters of Bush. At previous Elections Commissions meetings, Vaughan has protested any plans to terminate Bush before a grand jury meets to determine if he will be indicted or no-billed on the charges against him.
After Monday’s meeting, Sikes and one other part-time employee of the Elections Administration Office, who also resigned, were given an opportunity to remove their belongings while courthouse security stood by.
County officials had intended to relocate the employees to other departments. Their voluntary departure comes just weeks before the May elections for cities and schools. While the timing of the office closure is less-than-ideal, County Judge Jay Knight believes the County Clerk’s Office is fully capable of operating elections with integrity, just as it did before the creation of the Elections Administration Office three years ago.
“The budget and the positions will be moved to the County Clerk’s Office. They can be ready in time for the election. There are employees in the County Clerk’s Office who previously helped with the elections, so they know what to do,” Knight said. “At least we will have a sound election for this election cycle and the presidential election next year.”
Through his wife, Shayla, Bush provided the following written statement to the media regarding the abolition of the Elections Administration Office:
“We have heard public testimony on multiple recent occasions from election judges, election workers and members of both political parties. Their message was consistent: the Office of Elections Administrator has ran elections incredibly well and is supported by everyone actually involved in conducting elections in our county … I am so thankful and proud of each and every election worker, judge and every member of my staff over the past three years who has participated in this process. I respect the decision of the Liberty County Commissioners Court and pray that this move does not have a negative effect on voting in Liberty County moving forward. Thank you for the opportunity to serve the great citizens of Liberty County in this role.”
As a reporter, I must state that the next two years will be an interesting journey for voters. It is important that every vote is heard and counted. There is speculation that this situation may have political motivations, but this is not confirmed. Regardless, we must remain vigilant and closely monitor those in power to ensure they uphold the constitution and the law. As citizens, we hold the power to hold our leaders accountable and remove them from office if they violate our democratic principles.
If he is found not guilt, the DA might be looking for another job.
Little, I would be willing to bet all I’ve got, that the DA doesn’t have a 100% conviction rate!!!
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