Breckenridge Texan

Texas Attorney General finds no nepotism or conflict of interest in local sheriff’s race

Texas Attorney General finds no nepotism or conflict of interest in local sheriff’s race
March 05
18:28 2021

By Tony Pilkington and Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued an opinion today in response to a 2020 request by Stephens County Attorney Gary Trammel regarding the legality of the recent sheriff’s election.

Paxton’s opinion is that there is no conflict of interest or violation of state nepotism laws with regard to Stephens County Judge Michael Roach’s brother, Kevin Roach, running for Stephens County Sheriff.

In September, Trammel submitted a request for an opinion from Paxton regarding the situation of Kevin Roach running for the office of Sheriff while his brother, Michael Roach, is the County Judge. The opinion request was submitted at the request of Jay Marcom, the husband of Kathy Marcom, the other candidate for Sheriff, Trammel said in September.

The opinion request focused on Texas law related to ethics in the government, specifically to Chapter 573, which addresses nepotism issues, and other statutes concerning the duties of county officials, including the county judge. Click the following link to see the opinion request: Request for Opinion

According to the opinion released Friday, March 5, Paxton said, “Neither the nepotism statute in chapter 573 of the Government Code nor the conflict-of-interest statute in chapter 171 of the Local Government Code prohibit the county judge’s brother from running for sheriff in the described circumstances.”

In the Nov. 3 election, Kevin Roach, who was chief deputy at the time, won the election over Kathy Marcom, with a total of 3,475 votes for Roach and 251 votes for Marcom.

Kevin Roach said the opinion wasn’t a surprise, because, based on legal counsel he had sought during the election, he was sure that the situation didn’t violate any laws. “Nepotism doesn’t apply,” he said. “That applies to appointment, and this is not an appointment thing — it’s an elected thing.”

Additionally, Paxton ruled that nothing in the government code prohibits the county judge from voting, along with the rest of the Commissioners Court, on either the Sheriff’s Office budget or the Sheriff’s salary.

“It was about what I expected the AG to say,” Trammel said. “Actually, it went a little bit further than than I expected when they also, in that opinion, stated that he didn’t have to abstain from voting on compensation and things for the sheriff’s department.”

Trammel said it was a thorough and well written opinion.

“It is one of the longest opinions that I’ve seen in a long time. Normally, they’re only a page or two, maybe three,” he said. “This one was six pages long, so they really went in and researched everything and answered everything in order to make sure that there were no questions that could have come up out of it. So I thought was a well written opinion. They covered everything that had been brought up to me, and everything that I think possibly could be brought up, so I think that all of that issue is put to bed.”

Michael Roach said he was pleased to see the opinion today and that it was so detailed. “I’m glad it settled. I’m glad it’s done. and we can move on,” he said.

When contacted by the Breckenridge Texan for a comment on the opinion, Jay Marcom said he hadn’t seen the opinion.

To read the complete opinion issued by the Texas Attorney General’s Office about the Stephens County sheriff’s race, click the following link: AttorneyGeneralOpinion.

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County Judge Michael Roach swears in the new sheriff, Kevin Roach, in a ceremony shortly after midnight on Friday, Jan. 1. On Friday, March 5, the Texas Attorney General issued an opinion that the two brothers both holding county offices at the same time does not violate nepotism or conflict of interest laws. (Courtesy Photo)

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