Unopposed and ensconced in a Montgomery County Jail cell, state Rep. Ron Reynolds still managed to haul in 47,305 votes Tuesday, for his election to a fifth term in the Texas House.
Reynolds, D-Missouri City, could be out of jail to actively serve the constituents of the state’s 27th District by Jan. 7, 2019, a day before the start of the 86th session of the Legislature, Lt. Scott Spencer, spokesman for Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson, told The Texas Monitor Friday.
Reynolds is classified as a low level offender, eligible for a reduced sentence of three days of credit for every one day served in jail, Spencer said. If he is disciplined or otherwise has his low level status revoked, his sentence would carry into the session, he said.
Should he be made to serve his full one-year jail sentence, Reynolds, who turned himself in Sept. 7, would miss the entire regular session, which concludes at the end of May.
For three years, Reynolds fought a conviction in Montgomery County on five misdemeanor counts of illegally soliciting clients for his personal injury law practice. The term for such a violation is barratry.
While appealing his conviction, Reynolds handily won re-election in 2016 and represented his district in the last session. In the Democratic primary in March, he dispatched challenger Wilvin Carter and had no Republican opposition in the general election Tuesday.
The Texas 8th Court of Appeals rejected Reynolds’ requests for a new hearing for retrial in May and again in July.
While Sec. 141.001 of the Texas Election Code allows elected officials convicted of misdemeanors to hold onto their seats, Texas House Rule 5 prohibits a convicted official from voting or otherwise taking part in the day-to-day in the House or the Senate. Taken together, the statute and rule would appear to mean that, if Reynolds’ conviction is upheld, he could be a legislator who is not allowed to take part in any legislating.
It’s possible that Reynolds will have to serve his full sentence. Or Sheriff Henderson could decide at any time to release him on good behavior. The sheriff has issued no statement outlining how he intended to handle the sentence.
The Texas Monitor on Friday asked Henderson’s media relations representative Scott Spencer for comment, but he did not respond before this story was posted.
The state Democratic Party has so far issued no statement about Reynolds’ reelection.
As the Monitor reported in September, should the legislature start without Reynolds, he will be just the second legislator in modern Texas history to do jail time while in office.
He might also become the first to miss casting votes because of a jail sentence. Drew Nixon, R-Carthage, was convicted of misdemeanor solicitation during the 1997 session, but was allowed to begin his sentence in October, long after the session was completed.
Mark Lisheron can be reached at [email protected].