Harris County Precinct 2 Constable Chris Diaz is facing a federal whistleblower lawsuit from 11 former county employees who say he retaliated against them for revealing unethical campaign practices, KHOU reported.
According to the TV station, t-shirts that Diaz passed out at a St. Patrick’s Day parade in San Jacinto promoting his re-election had been donated to a local church for victims of Hurricane Harvey and repurposed by Diaz’ campaign.
The Texas Rangers launched an investigation that produced no charges but did get deputies and other county employees in trouble with Diaz after they gave statements to the investigators. Attorney Scott Poerschke, who filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, told KHOU that Diaz retaliated against those employees by demoting them, transferring them or firing them.
Two deputies were given dishonorable discharges, which Poerschke described as “a death sentence for any police officer trying to find another job in the State of Texas.”
The lawsuit also claims that employees were pressured to donate to Diaz’s campaign and prohibited from supporting his political opponents. If they disobeyed, the suit says, they faced punishment from the constable.
“If you do not donate, or if you challenge me in any way, then you will suffer — you will suffer the consequences,” Poerschke said of Diaz, KHOU reported.
The lawsuit seeks the employees’ jobs back, lost wages and damages. Diaz declined to comment to the TV station, through a department spokesperson.