Texas city's POA leader is asked to quit
By Deanna Boyd
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
The president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association has been asked to resign by other board members who say he improperly used the organization's petty-cash fund to pay campaign workers in a City Council runoff.
Lee Jackson, who was re-elected president in December, has refused to step down and adamantly denies wrongdoing.
Members of the executive board and the association's attorney, Jim Lane, declined to comment.
Jackson said Thursday that he has a meeting scheduled with the board this weekend.
"We are focused on the future," Jackson said. "There's a lot of bad rumors and misinformation going around."
In late December, treasurer Sam Livingston discovered that Jackson appeared to have written checks from the organization's petty-cash account instead of the political action committee fund, according to association members who asked not to be identified because they fear retribution. The money was used to pay workers who helped campaign in the June runoff for City Council candidate Jungus Jordan, the sources said. Jordan won the seat.
Tarrant County District Attorney Tim Curry confirmed that the association had contacted his office but said prosecutors are not investigating.
"We advised them to notify the proper people, and it's our understanding they did that and adjusted the funds from whatever account it should have come out of," Curry said. "It seems they did what they had to do, based on what we know."
Assistant District Attorney Ann Diamond said Lane told her that the association would file necessary paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission to correct the mistake and will keep the DA's office apprised of any civil penalties that could be imposed.
"They had already determined there was an issue and resolved to fix it and were letting us know before anyone even complained," Diamond said. "That indicates they're committed to getting it corrected."
Several of the association's directors called for Jackson's resignation during a called board meeting Monday.
When Jackson refused, the board adopted a motion to formally place Jackson on trial before the board, an action allowed under the organization's bylaws but never before used, the sources said.
If a trial is held and the board decides that the matter is serious enough to remove Jackson from office, a copy of the accusation and the board's findings will be provided to the association's approximately 1,200 members, and a recall election will be held within 30 days.
Jackson can be forced from office if two-thirds of the members vote for his removal, according to the bylaws.
Police Chief Ralph Mendoza said he has been briefed by Billy Samuel, vice president of the association, about a potential election-code violation.
"I was verbally apprised there may have been a problem in regards to potential wrongdoing on [Jackson's] part," Mendoza said. "I've agreed to wait for [Samuel] to bring the specific allegations forward in the near future, at which time we will look at it to decide what course of action to take."
Mendoza said that if the allegations result in potential criminal violations, an administrative review or investigation will be conducted, as is department policy.
Mendoza also confirmed that he's been told that the board intends to request that the city temporarily suspend a contract between the association and the city.
Under that contract, the association reimburses the city for the president's base salary in exchange for the president being allowed to work full time with the association. The city pays all the president's benefits.
City Manager Charles Boswell said that as of Thursday, he had received no request to suspend the contract.
Mendoza said Jackson returned to work at the Police Department on Wednesday at his own request. He has been assigned to patrol.
Fort Worth Star Telegram (http://www.star-telegram.com/)