Texas Democrat State Representative Ron Reynolds Faces Up to a Year in Jail
Just a few days after being re-elected for his third term in the Texas State Legislature, with a 66% margin over his Republican opponent, Democrat State Representative Ron Reynolds found himself in a Montgomery County Courtroom. An attorney by trade, he wasn’t there to represent a client.
Representative Reynolds, called one of the Worst Legislators of 2013 by Texas Monthly has had multiple ethical and legal violations.
This case, the result of a sting operation involving seven other Houston area attorneys, accused them of hiring a four-time felon named Robert Ramirez Valdez to illegally solicit clients for them. Valdez, currently serving a five-year sentence for his role, testified that the attorneys paid him thousands of dollars to read Houston police accident reports, and then make house calls to accident victims to solicit them as clients for the attorneys.
In March the Montgomery County district attorney issued a warrant for Reynolds’s arrest on charges of barratry (commonly known as ambulance chasing).
Reynolds, was re-elected to office despite these outstand and former charges.
In the summer of 2012, Reynolds faced similar charges in Harris County, for allegedly using a chiropractor’s office to solicit clients, but those charges were dropped after one of the investigators was charged with stealing evidence in another case. The year before that he was in trouble with the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to file campaign finance disclosures. In that case he was fined $10,000 which he neglected to pay until he was finally taken to court by the attorney general, which prompted the comptroller’s office to place a “warrant hold” on Reynolds’ state reimbursement checks to collect the money.
If Reynolds had been convicted of barratry, which is a felony, he would have been forced to resign from the Legislature, and would have faced a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison, in addition to potential further discipline by the Texas Bar. His conviction of a misdemeanor will allow him to remain in his position as a State Representative.
In an open letter to Ron Reynolds published in the Fort Bend Independent, a citizen wrote:
Letter: An open letter to State Rep. Ron Reynolds
The state had to garnish your pay just to get you to pay those penalties back.
This was in addition to the federal income tax liens placed on you and your law firm. You said that you had made a mistake, and would do better.
Then in 2012 you got arrested.
Later that year you told me, in our phone conversation, that you attended your interim committee hearings. But those committee minutes showed that you never bothered to go.
A few months ago you lied saying that you were the Democratic Whip “the second highest ranking position” in the House Democratic caucus. First, we know that the Whip is not the second highest ranking position.
Second, you’re not even the Whip. You’re one of 14 Deputy Whips.
Now we’ve learned that you’ve just been arrested for very similar charges as those you faced last year.
Your second arrest finally confirms for me that we can do better.
You can’t possibly do your job in Austin while fighting ongoing legal and ethical issues at home.
I respectfully ask that you resign your position immediately and take some time to get your affairs in order.