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Based on what these judges said on the record at a meeting, County Judge Tim O’Hare may have meddled in a prominent appointment. Courtesy Tarrant County

Though the title lacks panache, the county auditor is one of the most powerful and lucrative positions in the Fort Worth region. The commissioners court cannot adopt a budget exceeding the auditor’s revenue estimate, meaning County Auditor Kimberly Buchanan largely determines pay raises and budget appropriations.

Buchanan took office in May. She replaced near lifer Renee Tidwell, who resigned around the time the county elections administrator stepped down amid pressure from resident tiger stripe in Donald Trump’s Depends Tim O’Hare. Heider Garcia claimed to be above politics (must be nice), but it was O’Hare’s bullying tactics and nonstop bullshit about “elEcTiON iNTegRitY” that forced Garcia to pack up his shit and move on. Tidwell, in a bon voyage interview with the Star-T, intimated that county work has become highly politicized under O’Hare’s otherwise unremarkable first year in office.

Given the county judge’s history of meddling in local elections and appointments, we requested the minutes of the May meeting of the Board of District Judges, a group of 21 who appoint the county auditor. After Tidwell recapped her position, there was an interjection by Cynthia Terry, a new family court judge who enjoys staunch backing by the True Texas Project (formerly the Tarrant County Tea Party).

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“I know he doesn’t have a vote here,” Terry said, “but does anyone know how our county judge feels about [Buchanan]? Not that he has a vote here.”

Possibly remembering that they were being recorded, Civil Court Judge Don Cosby reminded her that it was inappropriate to bring up O’Hare.

“You can’t really ask that question,” Cosby said. “We have to be careful. He can have no say in this.”

Cosby then said O’Hare spoke with him about Tidwell’s replacement.

“He and I had a conversation, but I don’t think it was for me to bring it up,” Cosby added, meaning that O’Hare — not Cosby — allegedly pushed the issue.

Terry was one of five judges to vote against Buchanan while the 16 others approved appointing her to the position that earns $211,890 annually. Sidebar conversations between O’Hare and Cosby, along with Terry’s shameless attempt to sidetrack a vote to include input from a known interferer, are as unethical as they also happen to be commonplace in Tarrant County.

O’Hare built his political career on racism and lies. As mayor of Farmers Branch, he once described Mexicans as “less desirable people,” and as the founder of Southlake Families PAC, he spread misinformation about CRT (Critical Race Theory) to portray some members of Southlake’s school board as Marxists. During last year’s race for county judge, O’Hare’s supporters peddled a discredited police video to falsely portray his Democrat opponent, Deborah Peoples, as a vote harvester. And in last week’s cover story, we described interference into school board elections in Keller by groups with direct ties to O’Hare’s inner circle of racist, bigoted, un-Christlike liars and cheats (“Helter Keller,” Oct. 25). Despite the lack of credible evidence of widespread voter fraud in Texas, O’Hare formed a “voter integrity” unit earlier this year that has zero independent oversight and enjoys a direct line to District Attorney Phil Sorrells, another white-trash crackpot.

Tarrant County’s judiciary is every bit as crooked as the county’s top leader. Pick up any Weekly over the past several years and read for yourself. Terry ran as a “reformer,” and many hoped she would be the first noncorrupt local family court judge of the last century, but what she did during that board meeting was a blast of cold water. Of all people in government, judges have a duty to report wrongdoing, and the board’s conversations leading up to Buchanan’s appointment are yet another reminder that Tarrant County still remains under the control of Southlake’s vile powerbrokers.

This story is part of City in Crisis, an ongoing series of reports on unethical behavior and worse by local public leaders, featuring original reporting.

 

This column reflects the opinions of the editorial board and not the Fort Worth Weekly. To submit a column, please email Editor Anthony Mariani at Anthony@FWWeekly.com. He will gently edit it for clarity and concision.

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