County Judge sent $63K from campaign account to his beer company without reporting it

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Mark Henry
Galveston County Judge Mark Henry

GALVESTON — County Judge Mark Henry in 2016 ordered nearly $63,000 to be transferred from his campaign account to his beer company without reporting the transfer on his campaign finance reports — an apparent violation of state law.

It was an action that led his campaign treasurer — who is also his wife — to file a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission.

He “instructed me to transfer $62,775 from his campaign contributions account at Amegy Bank… to the bank account of the Galveston Bay Beer Company,” Amy Henry’s complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission reads.

The money was to pay a third-party vendor for beer canning equipment, according to the complaint. She added that she told the County Judge: “I did not think that such a transaction was correct.”

Transferring money from a campaign account to a private business can be a Class A misdemeanor, which could mean fines and jail time.  

He ordered she do it anyway, she claimed in the complaint. She told The Texas Monitor she later withdrew the it, and Mark Henry said the complaint was dismissed.

Henry says he followed the law

Henry insisted he followed the law and that he was simply paying himself back a loan he made to his campaign for Galveston County Judge in 2010. Indeed, he said he loaned his own campaign $120,000 and this transfer of money was just a portion of a payback.

“It’s extremely well documented, no question about it. I loaned myself $120,000 in 2010 to run for this office,” Mark Henry told The Texas Monitor. “No one disputes that. I repaid myself part of that money, not even all of it.”

Henry provided The Texas Monitor tax records showing he removed $120,000 from his IRA in 2010, and his campaign finance reports during that time show about that much money being used for his initial race for county judge.

Recent Texas campaign finance rules say that candidates must report loans on their public reports.

An examination of Henry’s campaign finance reports over the past year, however, shows that he did not report any outstanding loans, when there were apparently still outstanding loans.

That is a Class C misdemeanor, which does not mean jail time, but can mean fines.

If there are any legal issues, Henry points to his wife as the culprit.

“And I hate to say this, my wife was the treasurer,” Henry said. “If anything was done improperly it was her responsibility.”

Amy Henry defended her decision. “I didn’t agree with it or I would not have made the complaint,” she said. “I never agreed to it. I didn’t want to do it. I felt compelled that I had to do it.”

She was torn, she said. “He’s my husband.”

Toothless Texas Ethics Commission?

The Texas Ethics Commission, which monitors campaign finance reports and levies fines when there is wrongdoing, said they could not comment on the Henry complaint, citing state law.

It is uncertain if anything will be done in regards to the complaint. Even when there are obvious violations, it’s not clear what the Texas Ethics Commission can do.

Take the case of State Rep. Ron Reynolds, a Missouri City Democrat.

The Texas Ethics Commission has so far fined Reynolds $52,000 for his failure to file the reports, according to its records.

His nearest competitor for the title of most-fined delinquent filer is a district judge candidate from Alpine at $30,500.

There are, at best, a handful of fines over $20,000 among the more than 60 delinquents.

Jay Aiyer, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Jordan Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University, was asked on a recent addition of the Party Politics podcast if the Ethics Commission was “toothless.”

“They effectively are,” Aiyer said. “It’s an ethics agency that puts out fines. They don’t really have a control mechanism. They don’t have any criminal power. They don’t have any referral power. So part of the issue ends up being that it’s self policing. It becomes a court of public opinion that shames legislators into participating.”

Trent Seibert can be reached at [email protected] or at 832-258-6119.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Is this legal or is the story by a wife not actually true. If the story is true the law that permits this needs to change. We don’t get donation funds back.

  2. Galveston County Tax Assessor-Collector Cheryl E Johnson and Judge Lonnie Cox practice crony politics by colluding on sweetheart property appraisals.

    • While your at it don’t forget their supporter, Carol Dean, who is making her obligatory appearance.

      Judge Lonnie Cox appointed Carol Dean to a paid gig with the GCAD ARB (Appraisal Review Board).

      In fact, as the Administrative Judge, Lonnie Cox appoints all members of the GCAD ARB.

  3. I forgot to mention that Mark Henry posted a message to me via facebook, asking me to let him know who my attorney was going to be because I simply shared the exact same info after FOX 26 had aired their report. Wonder if I should consider that a threat?

  4. Henry was essentially bailing out his failing Beer Brewery and his wife did NOT agree with what he was doing which proves that SHE is the one with ETHICS!

  5. A campaign treasurer is not held responsible for misfilings. The candidate or officeholder signs the affidavit (page 2 of cover form) swearing to its accuracy. Only a scumbag would throw their wife (he wants to reconcile with her) and mother of his children under the bus. Of course this particular county judge throws everyone under the bus when backed against the wall.

    The Texas Ethics Commission was wrong in allowing this to be withdrawn. Transferring funds directly from campaign contributions to a business of the officeholder clearly is a Class A misdemeanor. But with a toothless DA and TEC, what is the public to do?

    • Galveston County Tax Assessor Cheryl E Johnson, like it or not, the TEC found nothing inappropriate, but you have certainly displayed your lack of class here.

  6. Mr Trent Seibert, you’re way off base with your story on County Judge Mark Henry – aside from the fact that you’re using legally sealed documents.

    Fox 26 Houston scooped you the Monday night after the Super Bowl and actually interviewed County Judge Mark Henry on TV. They determined nothing inappropriate occurred.

    However, before Fox 26 Houston finished their report, they confirmed County Judge Mark Henry’s primary opponent, Judge Lonnie Cox, was under criminal investigation by the Texas Attorney General.

    Judge Lonnie Cox refused to go on camera, but denied involvement in leaking the sealed documents – even though, he would have been the only one with access.

    Trent, either you have some unfinished business, or you’re producing fake news.

    • There you go again, SCP! Why were you not able to produce documentation when you kept posting that Cox was under legal investigation? You yourself are the biggest proponent of Fake News.

      Henry should NEVER have forced his wife against her will to do his “dirty work”. Still blaming it on her because she was the treasurer. Shame on Henry, just another “bully” like you! LOL!

      • To be accurate, I said Lonnie Cox was under criminal investigation, and that was confirmed by Fox 26 reporter Greg Groogan.

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