County Attorney Kelton Conner, who is retiring on Dec. 31, on Thursday explained why he is taking a taxpayer-funded trip to Austin just days before he vacates his office.
Conner said he is attending the Elected Prosecutor Conference sponsored by the Texas District and County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) in order to introduce Lori Kaspar to other county attorneys.
Kaspar, currently an assistant district attorney just down the hall from Conner’s office at the Justice Center, is on Tuesday’s ballot to become Conner’s replacement. She is a Republican, and does not have a Democratic challenger.
Conner said that his purpose for attending the conference is to “get (Kaspar) connected with other county attorneys in the state.” The event is slated for Dec. 5-7.
Members of the Commissioners Court have complained before about elected officials taking trips that may not be necessary for meeting continuing education requirements.
County Auditor Stan McBroom refused to confirm whether Conner was scheduled for a trip, so the Hood County News submitted a written Open Records request to the county personnel office to get the information. That office provided the requested documents within hours.
County Judge Darrell Cockerham signed Conner’s travel voucher for the $275 fee to the TDCAA, but said that the court only approves each department’s overall budget and has little control otherwise. Commissioners have no say, he said, if an outgoing elected official spends part of their office’s travel budget on a trip for themselves before leaving office.
Conner’s Travel Information form filed with the county lists costs of $341.55 for three nights at the Omni Southpark Hotel, $171 for mileage and $75 for meals.
Of Conner’s attendance, Kaspar said that networking is important, and also stated: “I certainly welcome Kelton’s help in introducing me to other county attorneys.”
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