Days after a Harris County judge signed a temporary restraining order barring Houston Community College trustee-elect Dave Wilson from taking the oath of office, the perennial candidate submitted notarized documents to the state showing he has been sworn in.
Wilson, 67, a small-business owner and anti-gay activist whose eligibility to serve on the HCC board is being challenged in court, filed oath-of-office papers with the secretary of state’s office on Thursday, the office confirmed.
Spokeswoman Alicia Pierce said it is not legally required for local elected officials to file oath-of-office papers with the state, as it is for statewide elected officials.
HCC lawyer Gene Locke said the college – not the state – is the proper filing authority and also received the documents via fax on Thursday. Locke said Wilson completed the appropriate paperwork newly elected officials must file to be legally sworn in, but whether it must be honored will be decided in court.
“The legal issue is whether or not the temporary restraining order prohibited him from taking the oath of office and, therefore, if the oath of office, the swearing in, is valid,” Locke said. “We’re kind of a bystander waiting to see how this thing plays out.”
Wilson’s lawyer, Keith Gross, said he did not tell his client to submit the oath-of-office papers because it would be unethical for an attorney to advise his client to violate a court order. Gross also said he did not know Wilson was planning to do so.
“This is something I decided all on my own,” Wilson said. Asked why he did not wait for an official swearing-in ceremony, Wilson said, “I wanted to take that position just as soon as I could.”
Wilson said he figured out what documents needed to be filed at the swearing-in ceremony of two other board trustees just after the Dec. 14 runoff election.
“I was amazed at how simple it was, quite frankly,” he said. “It doesn’t take a legal mind.”
You kind of have to admire the utter disregard for protocol. Dave Wilson just doesn’t care, and he doesn’t care if you care. Who even knew you could self-administer an oath of office? The question is whether anyone besides Wilson and his buddies will take his do-it-yourself oath job seriously. If the TRO is still in effect at the time of the next board meeting on January 16, what do the other Board members do when Wilson shows up and demands to take his seat at the table? I don’t know, but it might make for the most interesting board meeting in the history of forever. My advice to Gene Locke is to be thoroughly read up on all the relevant statutes and case law and be prepared to quote them from memory, because I bet Wilson will have a few cites to throw at you. And a little extra security, just in case, wouldn’t hurt, either. Campos has more.