Houston Corporate Tentacle Map: Mayor & City Council

Round one of this Houston Corporate Tentacle Map, focusing on the Mayor’s & City Council’s 2016–2017 campaign finance reports, is not meant to target any elected official, rather, this is meant to help answer some questions like:

· Why don’t we have rent control?
· Why are we quickly getting gentrified?
· Why are we allowing developers to profit off low-income neighborhoods when we could be using tax-payer dollars and incentive programs?
· Why haven’t we raised the minimum wage like other cities?
· Why is the ACLU having to sue Houston for the unconstitutional ordinance targeting the homeless?

The information being presented to you is from 2016–2017 campaign finance reports easily found on the City’s website along with the contracts.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HoustonCityHall_DANIEL2986.jpg

I do apologize for this taking so long. As I was going through campaign finance reports, I found Mike Knox’s reports did not list contributions as they’re supposed to.

Knox was very cooperative in fixing this and politely answered every single one of my demanding emails with no off the record snide remarks unlike the actions of some of you; however I can’t help but to wonder how long this lack of transparency went unnoticed by our local news outlets.

When the Mayor and Houston City Council run for their elected positions, it is legally a non-partisan race. Non-partisan means that there are no primaries or “top-two” to elect representatives from the parties first before the actual election.

Despite this, there is nothing stopping a party or party organizations from deciding to help a candidate, or the candidate from embracing the partisan help.

Because our elected representatives use their campaign contributions to either attend their party’s events or donate money to their party’s organizations/clubs, we are going to label who’s Republican and who’s Democrat.

Doing this will better show you, dear reader, how local CEOs of construction firms, corporations, developers, and special interest groups do not care about party lines — or in this “non-partisan” situation– care about the candidates’ platform on the issues.

Some examples include screenshots of non-partisan reps using campaign money for their partisan interests. Top to bottom: Martin, Laster, Knox, and Robinson

How did I figure out who was a Republican and who was a Democrat? Well, first of all, as seen in the example screenshot above, most of these folks used their non-partisan campaign money to either attend their party’s events or donate to organizations/clubs affiliated with their party as listed in the political expenditures. If it wasn’t obvious based on their campaign finance reports, a quick Google search summoned the affiliations.

AGAIN: Doing this will better show you, dear reader, how local CEOs of construction firms, corporations, developers, and special interest groups do not care about party lines.

For ease of use, the corporations/special interest groups are listed in alphabetical order.

Allen Boone Humphries Robinson, LLP

Did not find contracts with city.

From their website:

“Allen Boone Humphries Robinson LLP is devoted to the practice of public law and public finance of infrastructure. Our clients construct, finance, and operate the public water, sewer, drainage, road, and park facilities that allow Texas to grow, develop, and flourish.
Our focus on public entities and those doing business with public entities allows us to best serve our clients in this unique area of the law. ABHR attorneys have a broad background in public law and public finance.
With experience and innovation, we represent municipal utility districts, water districts and authorities, tax increment reinvestment zones, municipal management districts, cities, counties, and other public entities. ABHR serves as general counsel, bond counsel, underwriters’ counsel, disclosure counsel, and tax counsel.
ABHR also represents developers and others doing business with public bodies.”

BRH-Garver Construction, L.P.

BRH has four open contracts with the city of Houston

Mike Garver (C.M. Garver) is the CEO of this company, but you wouldn’t know it from some of the campaign finance reports because his occupation or company isn’t always listed. In Martin’s it’s listed as a C. Garver as a “general contractor.” In Kubosh’s report, it’s “construction, owner” and “Garver Real Estate.” In some reports, it’s only his name and nothing else. Looks like Knox’s Treasurer may have misspelled his named as Carver with Carver Construction. For Christie’s report, it says Mike Garver and then retired when that’s definitely not the case.

Screenshots from campaign finance reports. Top to bottom: Martin, Kubosh, Christie

From their website:

“BRH-Garver Construction L.P. solves construction industry challenges with hard work, a well-trained work force, and innovative technology. We have been completing complex civil projects for over 40 years We own and operate a large fleet of equipment, ready to mobilize coast to coast. Our in-house fabrication facility manufactures tools and equipment to outfit specialty projects. With our staff of highly trained project managers, experienced field superintendents, equipment operators, qualified welders, and skilled craftsmen, we self-perform projects safely and on schedule.”

Branch Group

Did not find contracts with the city.

Branch Group owns three companies: Branch, G.J. Hopkins, Inc, and Branch Civil.

Instead of breaking down each company and what they do, below is a Bloomberg profile. The CEO, Theldon R. Branch III, did all the donating on the company’s behalf. Read his Bloomberg profile, here. I include this link because it lists the different Houston committees he was on.

From Bloomberg:

“The Branch Group, Inc. provides construction services to public and private sector clients primarily in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. The company offers construction management, design-build, general contracting, and preconstruction services; and tailored guidance/consulting and management services ranging from the conception of the vision to the occupancy of the building and beyond. It also provides construction services for heavy highways, airport runways, site development, energy, landfills, dams, and reservoirs. In addition, the company offers heavy highway, site development, and concrete paving construction services; and contract mechanical, electrical, and plumbing services, as well as commercial maintenance services. The Branch Group, Inc. was formerly known as Branch & Associates, Inc. and changed its name to The Branch Group, Inc. in November 1986.”

CobbFendley

CobbFendley has eight open contracts with the city of Houston.

From their website:

“CobbFendley is licensed and registered to perform civil engineering and land surveying services throughout the States of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Utah. With professional staff members who hold licenses in various states, our reach extends nationwide.”

To view their projects, click here.

Comcast

Comcast has one open contract with the city, but it’s an old one and the reason why it’s open is because it’s still getting paid off.

Do we really need an introduction on this corporation? These are from the Comcast PAC, minus Turner’s; his $5,000 comes from Comcast’s VP of External Affairs, Ray Purser. And $500 of Edward’s contributions comes from Melinda Little, a Comcast lobbyist.

Dannenbaum Engineering

No contracts with the city.

From their website:

“We are one of the State’s premier firms for the planning and design of all types of infrastructure, with expertise in public infrastructure, hydrology and hydraulics, land development, surface transportation, airports, ports and harbors.
By adding innovation to solid engineering solutions, we can develop personalized responses to your needs, not just off-the-shelf answers. By reaching beyond typical engineering tasks — for example, our strength in providing financial concepts — we make projects feasible.”

Greater Houston Builders Association PAC

No contracts with the city because they are an association that represents home builders (AKA — developers).

From their website:

“The Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) proudly represents all aspects of the residential building industry in the greater Houston area. Chartered in 1941, GHBA is a trade organization whose members are involved in the development, homebuilding, and remodeling industry in 11 counties — Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Waller, Liberty, Wharton, Galveston, Matagorda, Austin and Colorado counties.
With approximately 1,600 member companies, GHBA is the fourth largest builders association in the country and the largest in Texas.”

Hall Attorneys

No contracts with the city.

From their website:

A law firm in Houston, this group practices government relations, real estate, bankruptcy and complex litigation.

Here’s what their Real Estate paragraph says:

“We are particularly skilled in the art of real estate turnarounds, routinely evaluating and restructuring transactions to yield favorable financial outcomes. We provide unparalleled resolutions in all aspects of the real estate business, including: acquisitions and dispositions, public-private partnerships and economic development agreements, debt restructuring and refinancing, real estate foreclosures and mortgage workouts, and efficient solutions to difficult regulatory and financial disputes.”

Haynes & Boone, LLP

No contracts with city.

From website:

“Haynes and Boone, LLP is one of the American Lawyer top 100 law firms, with more than 600 lawyers in 15 offices and 40 major legal practices. We are among the largest firms based in the United States. Our growth has been driven by our client service strengths, especially our problem-solving acumen and our ability to collaborate with clients.”

Houston Apartment Association Better Gov’t Fund (HAA)

No contracts with the city because they are an association that represents apartments (sounds like anti-rent control fund to me).

Let it be noted, that Hanover Company’s CEO, Murry Bourden, and Managing Partner, Jeb Bowden, contributed a total of $10,000 to Turner. They are not on this list, but Hanover Company calls themselves “upscale apartment living” and is part of the 90% being represented by the Houston Apartment Association (HAA).

So not only did HAA contribute to Turner on Hanover Company’s behalf, the CEO and Managing Partner did their own contributions separate from HAA.

From their website:

“HAA’s represents 824 owner/management companies and 918 product/service supplier companies. With more than 611,000 apartment homes in more than 2,900 apartment communities HAA represents over 90 percent of the Houston and surrounding areas apartments.”

RPS (formerly Klotz Associates)

RPS/Klotz has 10 open contracts with the city.

From website:

“For more than 30 years, the infrastructure arm of RPS has operated with an emphasis on public works and infrastructure projects across Texas. With a staff of 165 professionals in Austin, Dallas, Frisco, Houston and San Antonio, the firm provides transportation, traffic, ITS, water and sewer, aviation, drainage, land development and environmental engineering services.”

Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP

Three open contracts with the city, and each of those contracts possibly has an employee as a subcontractor.

The interesting thing about these campaign finance reports is that Darryl B. Carter, an attorney at Linebarger, has done some of his donating under his employer, Linebarger, even though he is not listed as an attorney on their website. His LinkedIn checks out and I called the firm — he’s employed by Linebarger.

Screenshot of Carter’s LinkedIn profile

However, Carter has also contributed while listing “Law Office of Darryl B. Carter” as his employer which is also listed as a subcontractor for each of the three Linebarger contracts they currently have with the city. A quick Google search reveals his website.

His website says: “Having been associated with the firms of Law Office of William E. King, P.C. and Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, Sampson, Mr. Carter has practiced in the areas of commercial litigation, business bankruptcy, and public law.”

Carter’s client list on his website includes Linebarger.

Both of Carter’s contributions as working with Linebarger and as Law Office of Darryl B. Carter happened in the same year.

Also note that on the Texas Bar website, Carter’s “primary practice location” is Linebarger’s address.

Screenshot of one of the three City contracts with Linebarger listing Law Office of Darryl B. Carter as subcontractor: https://houston.mwdbe.com/
Screenshots from campaign finance reports. Top to bottom: Gallegos, Boykins

Of the $7,593.75 contributed to Edwards, Carter donated $2,093.75 as an in-kind contribution spent on catering for an event. But don’t worry, he donated the rest of the contributions to Edwards too.

From their website:

“Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP is a national law firm with a practice dedicated to the collection of delinquent accounts receivable for government. For over 40 years now, Linebarger has been providing customized collection programs for its public-sector clientele. Our services allow our clients to spend more of their time and limited resources on providing the core services their constituents expect, while avoiding unnecessary tax increases and cuts to essential public services.”

Their services include the collection of delinquent property taxes, traffic citations, parking tickets, and tolls. They also offer Homestead Exemption Audits, property tax collection software, and property value study appeals for Texas school districts.

Locke Lord LLP

No contracts with the city.

From their website:

“Locke Lord is a full-service, international law firm that ranks among The American Lawyer’s top U.S. law firms. Our team has earned a solid reputation in complex litigation, regulatory and transactional work. We serve our clients’ interests first, and these clients range from Fortune 500 and middle market public and private companies to start-ups and emerging businesses. Through its wide-ranging international footprint, Locke Lord has received numerous industry recognitions as a global leader in the middle market sector.”

Lovett Homes

No open contracts with the city.

Frank Liu is the president of Lovett Homes (clicked on link? scroll all the way down to “meet our team”), but you wouldn’t quite catch that in the campaign finance reports.

For Le’s campaign finance report Liu is listed as a developer with no employer; for Green’s he’s listed with no occupation or employer; for Edwards’ he’s listed as a realtor for Lovett Homes; and for Gallegos’, Cisneros’, and Boykins he is finally listed as the owner or president.

Liu did all of the donating under Lovett Homes for all the corresponding elected officials.

Screenshots from campaign finance reports. Top to bottom: Le, Green, Edwards

Before even clicking on their website, this is what their summary is in the Google search:

“IntownHomes has earned a reputation with Houston’s most cosmopolitan urbanites for building well crafted single family townhomes in the city’s most vibrant inner-loop urban communities. InTownHomes are situated to take advantage of short commutes to work and contribute to Houston’s urban revitalization.”

Urban revitalization. Political double speak at its finest. In case you missed it, that’s definitely gentrification. If you did miss it, I encourage you to go onto their website and look at those homes and realize working class people will not be able to afford that and will be displaced from their area due to increase of property taxes.

Orrick Texas PAC

Did not find contracts with the city.

All of the contributions come straight from the PAC minus Turner’s.

Out of the $12,000 donated to Turner, $2,000 of that came from J. Kent Friedman, Senior Counsel for Orrick, Herrington, & Sutcliffe LLP. The remaining $10,000 came out of the PAC.

From their website:

“The ‘Energy Capital of the World’ and an important gateway for Latin America, Houston is a hub for our global Energy & Infrastructure, Finance and Technology practices. Launched in early 2016, our Houston office brings together Texas practitioners who are recognized by Chambers USA, Chambers Global and Chambers Latin America for Energy & Infrastructure, Latin America, M&A and Private Equity, and Litigation.”

RELATED: Houston: Mayor Appoints Retired Shell Oil President for Harvey Clean-Up

Check out their client results.

Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins, & Mott LLP

This law firm has one open contract with the city.

From their website:

“Perdue Brandon Fielder Collins and Mott‚ LLP is one of the oldest and largest law firms in Texas focused on government collection matters. Since 1970‚ we have grown steadily‚ adding clients‚ attorneys and trained support staff.
Today‚ we represent many types of governmental entities — school districts‚ cities‚ counties‚ hospital districts‚ appraisal districts‚ special districts and toll road authorities. Our experienced attorneys and professional staff are capable of handling a wide variety of government collection issues‚ including but not limited to‚ delinquent tax matters and fine and fee collections.
We also advise many appraisal districts on property tax matters and represent them in litigation involving valuation‚ exemptions‚ special appraisal designations and other property tax issues. We represent school districts in appeals and audits of the Texas Comptroller’s property value study.”

Weekley Properties

No contracts with the city.

The only contributor for all of the elected officials being discussed is Richard (Dick) Weekley.

A quick glance at the Weekley Properties website does not show him listed, but his website and Transparency Texas show that he co-founded Weekley Properties with his brother, David Weekley, and co-founded Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Based on the difference of websites, it looks like Richard is more involved with Texans for Lawsuit Reform. In the campaign finance reports, Richard is listed in Martin’s as investor and self-employed and in Kubosh’s as home construction and owner.

From the Weekley Properties website:

“David Weekley Homes began in 1976 in Houston, Texas, and has grown to become the largest privately-held home builder in America. We’re passionate about our Customers, building exceptional homes, our fellow Team Members and the communities in which we live and work.”

Check out the homes they build using their “find a home” search tool.

Wulfe & Company

No contracts with the city.

All contributions were done by Edmond Wulfe, chairman and CEO.

From their website:

“Wulfe & Co. is a Houston-based, full-service commercial retail real estate company founded in 1985. The real estate services offered by Wulfe & Co. include:
Project Leasing
Site Selection
Property Sales
Property Management
Development
Consulting”

Honorable Mentions…

These three corporations are factually needed to aide and improve the infrastructure of Houston. However, why are they donating such large amounts to campaigns?

Landtech

This company has four open contracts with the city.

They contributed $10,000 to Turner and $3,000 to Travis.

From their website:

“Landtech provides a full range of construction engineering and inspection services to support the construction of major highway transportation systems throughout the State of Texas. Through our exceptional quality control policies and procedures we have established an essential service to optimize production during each phase of the project and ensure all activities are completed within the budget and schedule parameters.”

Check out the projects that they are currently working on. It includes IH 45, US 59, and SH 63.

Omega Engineers

This company has three open contracts with the city.

Employees contributed $5,000 to Turner.

From their website:

“Since its inception in 1962, OMEGA has grown from manufacturing a single product line of thermocouples to an established global leader in the technical marketplace, offering more than 100,000 state-of-the-art products for measurement and control of temperature, humidity, pressure, strain, force, flow, level, pH and conductivity. OMEGA also provides customers with a complete line of data acquisition, electric heating and custom engineered products.”

Traffic Engineers

This company has five open contracts with the city.

Employees from Traffic Engineers contributed a total of $20,000 to Turner and $250 to Edwards.

From their website:

“Traffic Engineers, Inc. (TEI) is a professional engineering firm, licensed in the state of Texas (registration # F003158). We provide a comprehensive suite of transportation planning, operations, and engineering design services. We also offer public engagement, construction management, and implementation support. In all projects, TEI seeks to provide innovative, cost-effective solutions to our clients’ challenges, and exceed expectations for excellence in client service.”

Remember…This is meant to help answer some questions like:

· Why don’t we have rent control?
· Why are we quickly getting gentrified?
· Why are we allowing developers to profit off low-income neighborhoods when we could be using tax-payer dollars and incentive programs?
· Why haven’t we raised the minimum wage like other cities?
· Why is the ACLU having to sue Houston for the unconstitutional ordinance targeting the homeless?

Feel free to review the campaign finance reports easily found on the City’s website along with the contracts and see more it for yourself.