County Judge Bush seeking herself higher pay increase than voted on; shuns law enforcement

Photo by Dave A. Vance
Ellis County Judge Carol Bush.

ELLIS COUNTY — Ellis County Judge Carol Bush, the same county judge accused of fraud of over $15,000 in 2014, and who was just included in a three-percent across-the-board pay increase, will be asking a salary grievance committee to increase her pay and/or expenses on Friday. The meeting will be open to the public.

The Ellis County Commissioners' Court voted on August 23 to give all Ellis County elected officials and all county employees a three-percent pay increase. Bush, who chairs the commissioners' court, is a voting member.

Despite this agreed-upon pay increase, Bush has requested a meeting with the Salary Grievance Committee at 10 a.m. on Friday, September 9 to either seek a pay increase or an increase in expense reimbursements despite her previous acceptance of a three-percent pay increase for all elected officials and employees while also vocally expressing her denial of step pay increases for county law enforcement.

The public notice for the meeting states, "Public hearing regarding the salary and personal expenses of the County Judge, pursuant to Local Government Code [Chapter 152, Section 016]." The meeting will take place at 10 Multi-Purpose Room #265 located at 109 S. Jackson St, Waxahachie, Texas in the Ellis County Courts and Administration Building.

Bush, a constitutional county judge rather than a judicial judge, had previously falsely claimed in sworn affidavits that at least 40% of her time was spent handling judicial duties that would add $15,000 per year to her salary paid for by taxpayers from the State of Texas.

Members of the public began questioning her affidavits in late 2013 and a criminal complaint was filed in 2014. Bush admitted she did not perform those duties and ended up repaying the state $22,531.10 according to WFAA. No criminal charges were ever filed despite a special prosecutor being assigned to the case. Rockwall County District Attorney Kenda Culpepper closed the investigation in August 2014 after the Texas Rangers stated there was insufficient evidence to proceed with charges.

The affidavit Bush signed read, in part, "On my oath, I swear or affirm that at least forty percent (40%) of the functions I perform as county judge are judicial functions.

In 2015, a county commissioner stated Bush floated the idea of a $53,000 raise for herself. The commissioners' court didn't take up the issue and Bush never responded to a request for comment.

The salary grievance committee will be made up of nine members. By state law, she is designated as the chairman, but has no voting power. Although in the past the committee was made up of a mix of elected county officials and residents of Ellis County, sources are telling us that it has now changed to a mix of previous grand jurors.

When Ellis County Sheriff's Association Josh Atilano last addressed the commissioners' court about the step pay program for sheriff's department employees, Bush shut the idea down.

The Waxahachie Daily Light wrote, "Bush said the step pay program is not something that is going to be looked at this for this year and the proposed budget for this year has already been created. Bush added that the county has added positions across the county. Some of these additions include in the areas of dispatch, patrol, purchasing, department of development, veteran services, the law library and maintenance."

Despite that claim, Bush is seeking herself a raise through the Salary Grievance Committee rather than through the normal budget process.

Bush's hearing in front of the Salary Grievance Committee is open to the public and will be held on Friday, September 9, 2016 at 10 a.m. in Multi-Purpose Room #265 in the Ellis County Courts and Administration Building at 109 S. Jackson St., Waxahachie, Texas.