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Whirlwind week for Bush ends in suspension with pay

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    Rev. Aubrey Vaughan of Cleveland addresses the Liberty County Elections Commission on Tuesday afternoon in support of Bush.

LIBERTY – Following the recent arrest of Klint Bush, chairman of the Liberty County Housing Authority, last Thursday, he has been at the center of attention at the Liberty County Courthouse.

First was last Friday morning's press conference by District Attorney Jennifer Bergman, where she laid out the charges against Bush, who is facing Abuse of Official Capacity and Theft by Public Servant ranging between $30-150,000, both felony charges.

Bergman relayed only a few more details than those made available during his arrest at the press conference.

“First, I remind you that Mr. Bush enjoys the presumption of innocence in this matter,” Bergman told those in attendance before outlining the investigation.

“In the fall of 2021, the Texas Rangers received a complaint regarding Klint Bush and allegations of fraudulent activity involving the Liberty County Housing Authority, after which an official investigation was opened,” said Bergman.

That investigation was led by the Texas Rangers and HUD-OIG, who executed simultaneous search warrants early Thursday morning at the residence of Bush, as well as the office of the LCHA. 

During the press conference, Bergman revealed the amount to be $33,978.49.

That detail was the only significant information provided during the press conference, but Bergman also said the warrants issued thus far were only the initial portion of the investigation.

“This is an intricate scheme that’s best explained through the written affidavit that was filed with the arrest warrant in this case,” said Bergman. 

When asked why Bush was arrested without any indictments, Bergman said, “This was one portion of this investigation, and I believe there was additional things that needed to be obtained in order to fully complete different portions of it.”

Affidavits appear to suggest the investigation resulted from a complaint by former LCHA Director Delores Moore, who was fired from her job in 2021 and is also the subject of a lawsuit by the LCHA alleging fraud and conversion against her and two other defendants while working for the housing authority.

“In Moore’s statement, she provided extensive details concerning Bush’s misuse of LCHA funds through numerous means,” the affidavit reads.

Those allegations refer to money received through the CARES Act and several equipment purchases for the housing authority, PPE items, and a piece of property purchased by that organization.

Following the press conference, Michelle Mangum-Merendino spoke on behalf of Bush.

“When you have great facts, you try your case in the courtroom. When you don’t, you try them in the press. I hope you will reserve your judgment to allow him to obtain counsel and cooperate. I believe at the end of the day, what will be discovered is that Mr. Bush obtained and maintained absolutely zero benefit,” she said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Bush’s job at the Office of Elections, where he serves as Elections Administrator, was the subject of a meeting by the board overseeing that department. While allegations against Bush do not affect that position, it plays a vital role within the county.

A large crowd attended and, by all appearances, was there in support of Bush, and a number of them addressed the board.

Rev. Aubrey Vaughan of Cleveland spoke in support of Bush and asked the court to consider that he is innocent until proven guilty and not be swayed by public opinion.

“In America, you’re innocent until proven guilty, but in the media, you're guilty by accusation,” Vaughan told the commission.

That commission comprises County Judge Jay Knight, County Clerk Lee Chambers, County Tax Accessor Ricky Brown, Republican Party Chairwoman Emily Cook, and Democratic Party Chair Michael Mark.

Vaughan’s sentiments were echoed by others in attendance, including John Addison, who has been vocal on local social media about his displeasure over several issues in recent months.

“If Mr. Bush is going to be tried in the court of public opinion, let's afford him the same rights that every red-blooded Texan is afforded, and that is the presumption of innocence and full transparency,” said Addison.

After the public comment period, the board entered a lengthy executive session before returning to decide on Bush’s employment.

Commissioners on the board voted to suspend Bush with full pay for a period of 60 days before revisiting the issue. Cook abstained from voting, citing that she was a former member of the LCHA board.

The commission furthermore decided to name Chambers as the temporary overseer of the county’s elections process by a vote of 4 to 1 in a move that led to a gasp of some in the audience.

“This was not a vote against the county clerk. Rather, I strongly believed that the best option for elections in our county is for the office to continue business as usual and that the current chief of staff is capable to continue running the elections office smoothly and uninterrupted. That is why I voted no on the proposed interim EA," Cook told The Vindicator.

As of Wednesday morning, Bush had no comment and was preparing for a court hearing in the 75th District Court of Mark Morefield relating to issues over his bond.