Manure becomes centerpiece of mayoral hopeful's press conference

ByKeaton Fox KTRK logo
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Tony Buzbee brings manure to press conference
Manure appears at a press conference for mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- If you imagined a 2019 Houston mayoral election that would be bland and uneventful, the wheelbarrows of horse manure outside mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee's midtown campaign headquarters would say (smell?) otherwise.

For the second time in a week, a political foe of Mayor Sylvester Turner lobbed accusations at him for accepting campaign contributions that would translate to favor when city contracts came up.

Sunday, Buzbee took out a full-page ad in the Houston Chronicle detailing his proposal that would amend the city charter to stop the practice.

Earlier in the week, Bill King, who narrowly lost in 2015 to Turner, announced he too would challenge city officials through official measures to stop accepting campaign contributions from those who do business with the city.

Buzbee's 20-minute news conference touched on a variety of subjects: from the pay-to-play issue to where the drainage fee is being spent to chastising the press for not asking harder questions of Turner

"Somebody needs to ask more questions about the $38,000,000 contract where the mayor's former law partner got $6.7 million," Buzbee said. "That stinks. Stinks just like this horse manure."

ABC13 Investigates broke the story in a November 2018 investigation into the contract and is still waiting on some answers from the city of Houston.

Buzbee is self-funding his campaign and has promised he won't accept donations. A recently-filed campaign finance report shows Buzbee is the sole donor to his campaign for a cool $2 million. He's spent just over $500,000 so far, mostly on television ads, the report shows.

Since July, Turner has raised $1.2 million from hundreds of donors, spent $633,000 and has $2.8 million in his campaign war chest, reports show.

"More than 70 percent of the money that has been donated to this mayor comes from people doing business with the city," Buzbee said. "It spiked in the last six months. Do you know why it spiked? Because they finally figured out how they're gonna distribute the $1.18 billion that's coming from Washington and so now people are in--- these engineers, architects, consultants out of, out of state entities."

"I used to raise hogs and when you bring the slop, the hogs come running and that's what's going on at the city of Houston."

We reached out about the allegations made by Buzbee, but Turner didn't want to comment, a campaign spokesperson said.

Houston's municipal election is Nov. 5, 2019.