A District Attorney in a rural East Texas county is under scrutiny for sanctioning an unlawful traffic-ticket operation. Not only has the DA refused to investigate any wrongdoing by county officials, the two former commissioners who opposed the scheme are now the target of an unrelated criminal investigation.
Kaufman County taxpayers are rightfully outraged over county officials who unlawfully hired American Traffic Solutions in 2014 to deploy traffic cameras in local school zones and on school buses. The arrangement was the brainchild of sitting County Judge Bruce Wood and two commissioners who approved the contract, but are no longer in office.
The Local Government Code does not give counties the authority to issue civil penalties for violating local ordinances, such as traffic laws. This explains why cities, rather than counties, have traditionally deployed traffic cameras. (LGC 54.012 & 54.044)
Shockingly, Kaufman’s District Attorney, Erleigh Wiley, sanctioned the illegal scheme. It was not acknowledged as problematic until outside counsel (Wynn and Wynne) declared it so in their report, more than a year after cameras were deployed. Ironically, the firm hired by Kaufman county to help them exit the ATS contract ended up uncovering the illegality of the county’s own actions.
Prior to the ticketing program’s eventual termination in 2015, which cost county taxpayers more than $181,000, an untold number of traffic fines were illegally issued to Kaufman residents.
Wiley’s blunder is a clear example of gross incompetence. A graduate of UT Law School and an adjunct law professor at UNT, it’s hard to believe Wiley wasn’t aware the ATS contract was illegal. But the scandal appears to go far beyond incompetence.
Wiley blamed a subordinate for approving the problematic arrangement. She even admitted in a public meeting she never personally read the contract, and therefore, somehow wasn’t culpable for it.
Wiley has since refused to investigate any wrongdoing by Wood or other current and former officials responsible for the scandal. She’s now recused herself from an investigation of the two former Kaufman commissioners who opposed the ATS contract, which some residents suspect is a political witch-hunt instigated by Wood.
The Texas Scorecard has received multiple complaints from Kaufman County residents regarding the ATS scandal, and is investigating other potentially unlawful events surrounding it.
While Wood is now believed to be stepping down from office due to fallout from the scandal surfacing, Wiley plans on running for reelection in 2018. If she is incapable or unwilling to prevent, investigate, and prosecute government corruption, she is clearly unfit to serve in public office.