While Pat Lykos and her Gang seem to have been incapable of approaching the County Commissioner's Court to try and drum up a little money to pay their pre-commits, she seems to have had no problem in approaching the Court for money for an Office Lobbyist.
Historically, the District Attorney's Office has sent a legislative liaison of some sort to Austin when Congress was in session to work with the Representatives and Senators on upcoming criminal law bills. This has generally drawn a disgusted eye roll from members of the Defense Bar, who assume that this was an example of a Police State trying to come up with more laws to imprison the poor citizen. However, the liaisons in the past have often worked along with TDCAA in trying to help the legislators keep from putting laws into effect just because they seemed politically popular. (EXAMPLE: Harris County actually tried to talk Legislators out of expanding the death penalty to non-Capital murder situations like sexual assault a few years back).
However, prior to the Lykos Administration, the liason was a prosecutor who worked in a regular assignment until the Session was on the horizon. They then would spend the Session in Austin, meeting with the Legislators. Different prosecutors were often called to Austin to testify in support (or opposition) to a Bill on different topics, but only one person was there full time. In the past, that position has gone to senior prosecutors like Troy Cotton, Chuck Noll, and most recently, Kevin Petroff.
That all changed when the Free Spending Pat Lykos came to town and began treating her D.A. budget with all the restraint of Paris Hilton on Rodeo Drive with a new platinum card.
In her view, the Office Legislative Liason would certainly need some professional help -- especially, if they were going to get laws passed of such public criminal justice importance as the Press Shield Law!
So, Lykos decided to seek the help of professional lobbyist Hank Mitchell, who was already doing a little lobbying for a group called the Retired Senior and Visiting Judges (a group that Lykos served for three terms as president of, I might add). On February 24, 2009, Lykos and the Gang asked the Commissioners Court for approval of $17,500 for Mr. Mitchell to serve as a liaison from February 24 through June 1, 2009.
The move got some attention in Dallas (but not Houston).
Okay, so fine. Lykos doesn't think that her own inside people can do an effective job of lobbying in Austin during the Session. I guess she can sort of justify getting a professional lobbyist. (NOTE: Not really.)
But let's now jump forward to the June 9, 2009 Commissioner's Court Agenda to see what the Gang has on their wish list . . .
Well, goodness gracious, there's old Hank Mitchell's name again. It looks like Hank did such a good job for them when Congress was in Session that they thought they would bring him on for a longer period of time.
This time, Lykos requested $58,000 to employ Hank from June 9, 2009 through January 10, 2011. Yep, $58,000 for a time period where there is no legislative session going on.
This, folks, is bureaucracy at its finest.
We can get $58,000 for one guy to sit around during the off-season like a red shirted golfer, but we can't drum up the money to pay 12 pre-commits for the month of November?
Now, I'm sure that Lykos will defend herself by saying these funds were out of the discretionary account, which are not legally allowed to be used to pay prosecutorial salaries. To my understanding, that's true.
However, what that argument does not defend is why in the hell wasn't she spending as much time in front of the Commissioner's Court trying to get money authorized for her Pre-Commits as she was for Hank Mitchell?