Is Harris County Sheriff, Adrian Garcia, Sending The Director Of Public Affairs To Bully His GOP Opponent, Carl Pittman?
The 2008 general election brought a host of interesting personalities into office by clinging on tight to the coattails of President Obama. One of the more interesting personalities is Harris County’s Democrat Sheriff Adrian Garcia. I’d like to discuss the politics behind the politics. It’s against the law for a county employee to engage in electioneering or campaign tactics during county time. In other words, Harris County doesn’t pay its employees, elected or otherwise, to campaign on the taxpayers’ dime – and that’s the way it should be. However, Adrian Garcia seems to believe his employees should promote his reelection bid by intimidating opponents while at work. This move shows Garcia’s fear for the upcoming 2012 election and the chances of the far left to keep their few inroads in Harris County government.
Many of you may have met Carl Pittman. Pittman is a Harris County Sheriff Deputy working in the Criminal Investigations Bureau as a burglary and theft investigator. Pittman is an announced Republican candidate for Harris County Sheriff and seen by many as the early front runner in this important race. Like any other of the 4,000 plus employees at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Pittman knows he cannot discuss his campaign during work hours. But that didn’t stop Alan Bernstein from attempting to intimidate Pittman Tuesday afternoon.
Alan Bernstein is an ex-Houston Chronicle reporter. He now serves as Director of Public Affairs for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Bernstein has been known to act as Garcia’s spokesman on a number of occasions, including in Commissioners’ Court. On the afternoon of Tuesday, March 1, 2011, around 1:25 in the afternoon, Pittman was with a coworker who was having his patrol car washed at a facility owned and operated by the Sheriff’s office. However this was not just a routine chore.
Bernstein, a superior ranking official at the Sheriff’s Office, confronted Pittman stating “My salary package information that you are quoting at your campaign events is incorrect. This information is public record and you should get it right.”
Bernstein is referring to a quote Pittman made regarding the cost of several employees, not just Bernstein.
This kind of conversation is highly inappropriate during working hours. Again, it is illegal to discuss electioneering while on the taxpayer’s clock. Pittman pointed out that he cannot ethically or legally have this discussion, and that it should wait until after his shift has been completed. Bernstein replied “we don’t have to have a conversation, you just need to listen.” He continued his attempts to intimidate Pittman, implying there has been wrong doing.
Pittman plans to file a formal complaint with the Sheriff’s office in the near future regarding Bernstein’s actions. It’s unethical to discuss politics during working hours and wrong to intimidate a fellow employee.
Bernstein’s actions are a proxy of Garcia’s fear of the 2012 election. If Garcia feels he is the frontrunner going into the election, he would not feel the need to intimidate potential opponents. A key benchmark in politics is always your opponent’s desperation. When a political figure begins bullying opponents, it’s a clear sign that he or she is trying to play catch up. You don’t run scared when you’re winning.
Garcia’s desire to bully his employees lacks class and professional management style. To the contrary, it reveals the Sheriff of America’s third largest county to not have the ability to distinguish between the job he was elected to perform and entrenching himself in political turpitude.
Garcia and Bernstein’s actions lend an inside look into the political atmosphere of Harris County. Many Republicans were able to win countywide in 2008 despite the Obama wave. Moreover, many Republican voters lacked the motivation to turn up at the polls. A weak national ticket caused many to stay home. However, growing dissatisfaction with the White House and the promise of a more electable GOP presidential hopeful should be the stimuli to get Republican voters to turn up in 2012, similar to 2010. With the novelty of Obama fading and an even bleaker economic and foreign affairs picture, and growing rancor among political dialogue inside the Beltway from the left, many Democrats will stay home. This is bad news for Garcia, and he knows it. If he can’t win on the issues, he feels, he might as well try to push people around.
Additionally, Garcia and Bernstein’s actions reveals the cronyism and betrayal of the public’s trust in HCSO’s highest circles. Garcia has been known to jump the chain of command, an oddity in professional protocol in addition to using taxpayer money and resources to perform favors to friends. In a similar nod to questionable behavior, Garcia has again used public resources to strong arm for private causes.
Alan Bernstein’s bullying and violation of protocol and the law should not be tolerated. Garcia won partly due to scandal under his predecessor. It looks like history is repeating itself all over again. We will continue to follow Pittman’s story and report on new developments from the Harris County Sheriff’s office.