On the morning of September 10, 2019, a Tarrant County assistant district attorney forwarded an ethics complaint up his chain of command. The email was sent from a FWPD detective, and the topic was an “ethics issue” about potential meddling in a local investigation by members of the TCDA’s office.
Five months on, the handling of that email remains a mystery. As I have discovered, the City of Fort Worth, FWPD, and TCDA all maintain tight control over the release of information that they deem potentially embarrassing or incriminating. That reality leaves tax-paying citizens at a considerable disadvantage when trying to hold government officials accountable. Steps can be taken to file an open records complaint with the attorney general, but those efforts result in a boilerplate letter that recommends the matter be resolved locally.
This week, I’ll be describing documented steps that our city, police force, county, and district attorney’s office have taken to ensure that embarrassing information remains out of the public view. From what I’ve observed, all levels of our government seem content to turn a blind eye to public corruption, but each level of government obfuscates in their own adorable ways.
Fort Worth Police Department
The FWPD’s Office of Internal Affairs recently responded that they are reopening an investigation into how my Class B Misdemeanor charges were filed to appease a local, wealthy family. After five months of filing sworn complaints and reaching out to dozens of publicly elected officials in Tarrant County, I am grateful that FWPD is reexamining documented abuse of power and public corruption on the part of our DA’s office.
Getting this far has required unannounced visits to the City Attorney’s office and FWPD’s OIA to voice concerns over attempts to cover up public corruption. In short, my initial sworn complaint was deflected toward a peace officer and away from perpetrators of unethical actions. This maneuver allowed FWPD’s OIA to state that it saw “no wrongdoing” regarding my case when there was rampant interference by members of the DA’s office, according to two FWPD officers, who were doing a favor for individuals with “countless DA connections.”
City of Fort Worth
As it stands, Edward Brown is persona non grata with the City of Fort Worth. The City Attorney has directed city staff to ignore my communications. FWPD has given Mr. Brown a reply, and he’s simply not satisfied with that reply, they have been told. My two sworn complaints should be under the purview of the city’s Ethics Review Commission, but, alas, that commission was dissolved by Fort Worth City Council (with one opposing vote by Ann Zadeh) last month.
If you haven’t been following that ethical crisis, you should be. That being said, I continue to hold hope that the city that I call home will see fit to acknowledge the unethical and potentially criminal meddling in local matters by our county. We will see.
District Attorney’s Office
When a wealthy family asks the District Attorney’s office to do a favor, and that favor involves strong-arming peace officers, and the DA’s office actually does that favor, that is called public corruption. That description is based on first-hand statements by a peace officer whistleblower, a FWPD email obtained through open records requests, and the DA’s own account of how my case was handled.
I believe that the vast majority of TCDA staffers perform their jobs honestly and honorably, but, to date, the DA’s office has refused to acknowledge documented wrongdoing committed members of its office. A tell-tale Letter of Refusal appears to be missing, according to one ADA. DA Sharen Wilson is yet to respond to my request, based of an Attorney General recommendation, that an independent prosecutor investigate potential obstruction of justice committed by members of the DA, and questions remain about why Tarrant County’s largest criminal defense firm is listed by the DA as the gateway between an influential family and “countless DA connections.”
Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court
You can be forgiven if you don’t understand how Tarrant County is managed. The commissioner’s court isn’t so much a court as a back-slapping morning show where laughs are plentiful and critical debate is scant. County Administrator GK Maenius recently sent me an odd email in response to my request to voice concerns over public corruption.
“Because of [your] status, I will not place your item on the Commissioners Court Agenda.”
The Commissioners Court, for now, appears to prefer silence to public discourse based on objective facts. And who can blame them? Holding court is what some county officials do best.
Edward Brown writes about music, arts, and news for a variety of publications. He’s an award-winning writer for the Fort Worth Weekly and volunteers for numerous Fort Worth nonprofits. He regularly contributes to Visit Fort Worth and Madeworthy Magazine.
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