State Republican Executive Committeeman, David Bellow, has filed a criminal complaint with the Secretary of State – Elections Division, and the Hardin County Attorney.
The Complaint is against Justice of the Peace Butch Cummings and the complaint alleges that Mr. Cummings violated several laws, mainly that he illegally coerced Channel 4 Weatherman Dana Melancon into dropping out of running against him and also for threatening others with physical harm.
Below is the full text of the complaint that was sent to the Hardin County Attorney:
July 6, 2010
TO: District/County Attorney of Hardin County
300 Monroe Street
Kountze, TX 77625
FROM: David Bellow
Texas State Republican Executive Committeeman SD
P.O. Box 8253, Lumberton, TX 77657
ATTENTION: David Sheffield District Attorney/Rebecca Walton County Attorney (whomever applicable)
SUBJECT: I initially sent this complaint to the Secretary of State’s office and they are investigating this election violation and will be sending their investigation to the Texas Attorney General for action to be taken in regards to the election. The Secretary of State’s office further instructed me to also send this complaint to the district/county attorney for prosecution of the violations of the law that have occurred.
VIOLATIONS: Criminal Conduct in Violation of Section 2.054 of the Texas Election Code by intimidating or coercing a potential candidate not to file an application for a place on the ballot or to withdraw as a candidate, and other violations of the Texas Penal Code listed below.
SUMMARY OF VIOLATION:
Here are the facts as gathered from multiple firsthand accounts of people directly involved in this situation, all of whom will testify that this information is true. These sources include audio tapes of some of the conversations that provide indisputable evidence that this criminal activity has occurred.
Dana Melancon is a weatherman for Channel 4 News in Beaumont, TX. He was also a candidate in the March 2, 2010 Republican Primary and was running for Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 in Hardin County, TX.
Butch Cummings is the Justice of the Peace for Precinct 5 in Hardin County, TX. He was the incumbent candidate in the March 2, 2010 Republican Primary and was running for reelection as Justice of the Peace Precinct 5 in Hardin County, TX.
On January 8, 2010, incumbent Butch Cummings called Dana Melancon’s Channel 4 bosses to have a private meeting at Mr. Cummings Justice of the Peace office. This meeting was initiated by Butch Cummings. Those in attendance were Mr. Cummings (incumbent JP), Angel San Juan (News Director of Channel 4, the local Fox News affiliate in Beaumont, TX), and Chris Pruitt (the interim General Manager of Channel 4). Mr. Melancon was not invited.
During this meeting, Mr. Cummings told Mr. Melancon’s bosses that if Mr. Melancon did not drop out of the race for Justice of the Peace, then Mr. Cummings would go public with information that Mr. Melancon had received more than one speeding ticket during the last several years and these speeding tickets had caused Dana Melancon to be issued a warrant for his arrest to pay some unpaid fines (which Mr. Melancon did go down and pay upon hearing that a warrant had been issued). It is not certain whether Mr. Cummings issued this warrant himself, and if he did issue them, it is unclear whether the warrant was issued in an appropriate manner or if he issued the warrant unjustly and brought it to Mr. Melancon’s bosses as an abuse of power.
After this initial meeting, there was a candidate forum at the Lumberton Texas High School. Over a dozen candidates were there from state and local races. Dana Melancon did not participate in the forum. Mr. Melancon simply showed up for a few minutes and sat in the back to watch the forum. Butch Cummings called Angel San Juan and was very irate about Mr. Melancon being at the forum. Mr. Cummings call was laced with profanity and threats. Mr. Cummings demanded that Channel 4 give him airtime on tv. Angel San Juan tried to calm Mr. Cummings down and did not bow to Mr. Cummings threats for airtime.
On February 2, 2010, another meeting took place at Mr. Cummings JP office between Mr. Cummings, Angel San Juan(channel 4), Chris Pruitt (channel 4), Butch Cumming’s son (backing Mr Cummings actions), Melissa Minton (backing Mr Cummings actions), and this time they called in Dana Melancon so he was there too. Again, Mr. Cummings reiterated that Dana Melancon must drop out of the race for JP or else Mr. Cummings would damage the image of the news station by spreading info to the public about Dana Melancon’s lead foot. Mr. Cummings had printed out flyers about Dana Melancon that he had personally started to spread around and would continue to unless Dana dropped out.
Dana Melancon dropped out of the race and Channel 4 made multiple announcements on their newscast that Dana Melancon would not be running anymore and would not accept any nomination for JP, even if he were to win the primary election. Mr. Melancon still got a large portion of the votes on election day.
Furthermore, the editor of the Silsbee Bee spoke to Mr. Cummings and Mr. Cummings stated that since Mr. Melancon went after “his job” as Justice of the Peace, then he was justified to go after Mr. Melancon’s job at Channel 4. In past dealings with the Silsbee Bee, It is standard that the Silsbee Bee records their conversations for future reference so this conversation would have been recorded, and/or the Editor and one or more of their reporters has firsthand knowledge of this conversation and would testify to the truth of this.
Furthermore, When I, David Bellow, approached Butch Cummings about his “blackmailing” Dana Melancon to drop out of the race, Butch Cummings responded with a threat of bodily harm by saying he would “kick my ass if I told anyone” and when asked if that was a threat Mr. Cummings replied “you mark it down.” This is a violation of Texas Penal Code 22.01 (Assault by Verbal Threat of bodily injury of another person), and it is also a violation of Texas Penal Code Section 42.01 by using abusive/indecent/profane/vulgar language in a public place and in front of children.
There are several reliable witnesses who will testify to the truth of these allegations, including election judges and other officials in the Republican Party of Hardin County. Being that there is sufficient evidence to the claim that Butch Cummings coerced Dana Melancon into dropping out of running for office, it is requested that the District/County Attorney prosecute these charges.
Lastly, it is not my desire to defend any speeding tickets that Mr. Melancon had received. Instead, it is my wish, as the State Republican Executive Committeeman for Senate District 3, to ensure that the integrity of our democratic system is kept intact by allowing individuals to run and allowing the people to weigh their options (including the people being able to take into consideration any of the candidate’s past speeding tickets) and then decide who they want to be Justice of the Peace. Instead, the people did not have a chance to weigh their options and decide because of the criminal actions, and abuse of his public office of Justice of the Peace Butch Cummings by him meeting with Mr. Melancon’s bosses and trying to get him fired unless he dropped out of the race, which would ensure another term in office for Mr. Cummings.
Also, it does not seem that Channel 4 took any part in this coercion nor does it appear that they threatened to fire Mr. Melancon if he did not drop out. Instead it appears that Mr. Melancon stepped down from the coercion of Mr. Cummings and not coercion from his bosses.
State Republican Executive Committeeman