As election day nears for the special election in House District 13, one candidate’s donor is raising some serious eyebrows.
Ben Leman, who is running for the seat vacated by former State Rep. Leighton Schubert (R–Caldwell), shows on the most recent campaign finance report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission a donation for $25,000 from Randy Rogers, the Vice President of Williams Brother Construction Company, the largest reported donation for the candidate during the reporting period.
According to their website, Williams Brothers focuses on highway construction, with 95% of the firm’s business performed for the Texas Department of Transportation, building state highways, bridges, and toll roads.
One toll road construction project awarded to the firm, an expansion of Texas 249 in Montgomery and Grimes counties north of Houston, was approved by commissioners in both counties in 2017. For the initial construction of the road, Williams Brothers is to be paid $561.8 million, with an additional $30.9 million for additional maintenance for the next fifteen years.
It was during this period of time that Leman served as the County Judge for Grimes county, which voted to award the lucrative project to Williams Brothers.
Leman drew criticism within the community in 2015 for his drastic change in platform while on the Commissioners Court from being against the proposed toll project to unabashedly supporting it.
Now, with the recent large donation from the company constructing the toll road, it appears Leman may be reaping the rewards for his change in position.
Leman is facing Jill Wolfskill in both the special election on May 5 as well as the Republican primary runoff election on May 22. The May 5 election will determine who will fill out the remainder of Schubert’s term immediately while the May 22 runoff election will likely determine who will serve the reliably Republican district when the legislature convenes in January.
While Leman boasts support from the Austin establishment, Wolfskill has earned endorsements from conservative organizations such as Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Texans for Toll-Free Highways.