Harris County commissioner expects acquittal, could run again
Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole on Tuesday declared that he will be acquitted of federal bribery charges in his upcoming trial and left open the possibility he will run for re-election again in 2014.
Speaking after his first Commissioners Court meeting since his federal indictment on Dec. 21, Eversole said his legal troubles will not prevent him from continuing to serve.
"It does not impede my job. I was elected to do a job as Harris County commissioner, and I will continue to do that job," Eversole said.
He is postponing a planned annual fundraiser until after his trial, however.
More legal bills ahead
Asked why he planned a fundraiser at all when he already has $1.2 million in his campaign account and no election for at least three years, Eversole said, "I just got re-elected to a four-year term, and you have a fundraiser each year. It's something that a politician does every year."
Eversole has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money on attorney Rusty Hardin, his defense lawyer in the federal bribery case scheduled to start trial next month.
"I'm sure there are going to be more bills," Eversole said. "I'm sure that I'm allowed to (use campaign funds to cover legal costs). I'll use what I'm allowed to use."
Asked if the fundraiser was postponed because donors were drying up in the wake of the indictments, Eversole's political consultant, Allen Blakemore, said, "Absolutely not. As soon as we sent out an e-mail, the pledges and people signing up came in."
Eversole merely wanted to take a break, Blakemore said. The consultant also said he does not believe that the prospect of donations being used to fund a legal defense will make it more difficult to raise money.
After nearly three years of investigation, the Department of Justice filed a four-count indictment against Eversole last month, alleging that he took nearly $100,000 in cash and gifts from longtime friend and developer Michael Surface in exchange for steering millions of dollars worth of county contracts to companies in which Surface had an interest. Eversole also faces two counts of filing false income tax statements.
"I plan to be completely exonerated," Eversole said.
'Why would I resign?'
Hardin and Surface's attorney have called the charges the criminalization of a longtime friendship.
Eversole ran unopposed for re-election in November. He will be 71 in 2014, when he would next face re-election if he decides to seek a seventh term in office.
"(It's a) real possibility, absolutely. I'm not making an announcement today," said Eversole, "but that is a possibility, isn't it? Yeah, damn sure is."
Asked if he had considered resigning, Eversole said, "Why would I resign?"
Even if it were part of a plea deal that involved lesser charges or a lighter sentence? he was asked.
"That should have already been done, shouldn't it?" the commissioner said.
Was such an offer made?
"Not by me," Eversole said.
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