Lots of stuff happening in the Harris County DA’s race but this one I didn’t expect. I mean, when I saw the ad from Mike Anderson, I thought it was a fake courtroom. But mi Amiga Felicia Cravens, earning her nickname Something Fishie, figured out that it was a real courtroom and started asking around. Not getting any answers, she filed an official complaint against Mike:
I’m tired of seeing ethical lapses brushed aside with an “Oh, well. Nothing you can do about it.” Let’s see whether Anderson filmed the ad properly by paying for the use of public facilities. If so, fine. If not, then I want an explanation.
So what if someone films an ad in a county courtroom. I mean, heck, anyone could do that right?
Wrong. If so, there would be a line out the door and no county business could get done. This being a political campaign doesn’t change the rules – Mike Anderson has to play by the rules just like anyone else.
The Pat Lykos campaign responded to this incident with some helpful questions and guidelines:
- Use of a public area in a government building for private purposes requires at least 10 days advance written authorization from the county’s Facilities & Property Management Division, as well as payment of several fees to cover utility, janitorial and security expenses. Did Mike Anderson submit a written request, receive written authorization and pay the proper fees just as anyone else would have to—and if so, will he prove that fact by releasing the necessary records and receipts?
- If Mike Anderson didn’t receive authorization from FPMD to use the 262nd courtroom, who gave him permission to do so? Anyone? Who signed him and his entourage in to the building after-hours? Or does Anderson simply think the courthouse belongs to him, and its courtrooms are his private property to use as he see fit?
- On the evening or weekend Mike Anderson brought his cast and crew into the courthouse, were all individuals, boxes and bags screened through security and properly checked for weapons, as required—or were folks allowed to wander the building unsupervised, possibly leaving items to be recovered later?
- An average citizen, civic group or private business wanting to film an advertisement in a courtroom setting would have to pay a hefty fee to rent a production studio with a mock courtroom. Did Mike Anderson pay the county an equivalent amount for his use of the 262nd—or does he expect taxpayers to provide him with free studio space?
- If no equivalent rental fee was paid, his campaign received something of real value. Will Anderson be reporting this on his official campaign finance report as an in-kind contribution—and if so, what amount, and from whom?
- Most fundamentally—does Mike Anderson simply not understand or respect that the courthouse is a sanctuary in the service of justice, and politics should be kept out of its courtrooms?
Well, I don’t really know what Mike is thinking. Perhaps this is part of the good ol’ days that he keeps referring to. You know, the days when you hung ’em high in the morning, then got high in the afternoon? Dang, that almost sounds like a country song.