Politics & Government

Investigation against Stickland closed, his attorney says

State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford
State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford Star-Telegram

An investigation into whether state Rep. Jonathan Stickland or his office tampered with witness registration forms last month is “without merit” and has been closed, his attorney said late Monday.

But a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman said the investigation is ongoing.

Stickland’s lawyer, Trey Trainor, said in a statement that DPS investigators told him they have completed the review into witness forms from an April 30 House Transportation Committee hearing.

“Late Friday, I spoke with one of the rangers assigned to the case,” Trainor’s statement said. “I was told that the investigation was over and that I would not be hearing from DPS anymore.”

At issue was a committee hearing late last month after Stickland, R-Bedford, temporarily derailed House Bill 2346, by state Rep. Joe Pickett, D-El Paso, from consideration. That bill has since passed the House.

In the committee, before Stickland presented his bill, Pickett accused Stickland of listing witness who were not even in Austin as among the supporters of his HB 142, which would eliminate red light cameras in Texas.

Pickett called people who allegedly turned in witness cards but weren’t present in Austin. And he asked Stickland to leave the hearing or be escorted out. Stickland left the room, with a House sergeant-at-arms following him.

The House General Investigating and Ethics Committee met and referred the case to the Texas Rangers.

DPS officers last week met with Stickland and his staff, interviewing them regarding a criminal investigation into violations of the penal code. Trainor said he was told the “allegations are without merit.”

“The officer said they had taken the evidence gathered by DPS to the DA’s office and the district attorney was not interested in taking the case,” Trainor said in the statement. “We have said since the beginning that there were no violations of the law or violations of House rules, and I am glad that law enforcement agreed.”

A spokeswoman for state Rep. John Kuempel — a Seguin Republican who heads the House General Investigating and Ethics Committee that referred the case to the DPS — said late Monday that the DPS has not informed them the case was resolved.

But DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said Monday night that the matter is ongoing. The Texas Rangers have been talking with the Travis County District Attorney’s office and “at this time, the investigation is under final review by the Texas Ranger management team,” Vinger said.

Anna Tinsley, 817-390-7610

Twitter: @annatinsley