13 Investigates examines Houston mayoral aide's past

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ByTed Oberg via KTRK logo
Thursday, August 4, 2022
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13 Investigates is learning more about William Paul Thomas' connections to Houston politics.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- 13 Investigates is learning more about William-Paul Thomas' connections to Houston politics.

Thomas started his political life as an intern for then-Houston City Councilmember Rodney Ellis nearly four decades ago.

"Over the years, he's become just like a son to me, a younger brother," Ellis told ABC13 on Thursday.

Thomas and Ellis worked together at City Hall and then again in Ellis' Texas State Senate office. In 2003, Ellis thanked Thomas with a Senate resolution for his "contributions to the Texas Senate and citizens of Texas."

This week when Ellis learned of Thomas' sudden resignation and guilty plea, the current Harris County commissioner was stunned and disappointed.

SEE ALSO: William-Paul Thomas, Houston mayor's top aide, pleads guilty to corruption charge, Chronicle reports

Ellis reached out to Thomas after learning of his plea to check in.

"I know him as a person, so I condemn what he did. I'm disappointed, but he is a friend and will remain a friend," Ellis said, adding that he didn't get any explanation of the criminal activity. "He didn't (explain it to me), and to be honest with you, I am a lawyer as well. I don't want to know the details."

SEE MORE: Mayor's aide paid $13K to help reopen bar during restrictions: filing

There are plenty of details worth wondering about. As we've pointed out, Thomas' plea is just the latest in a string of recent FBI cases in the Houston area, including one involving former Houston School Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

Skillern-Jones pleaded guilty to a school-related bribery charge last October, but it wasn't unsealed and made public until December 2021. During that time, Skillern-Jones was working for Ellis. There is nothing in court documents that connects Ellis to either Skillern-Jones' or Thomas' case.

SEE ALSO: HCC board member resigns amid HISD allegations

"If there's anything that has gone on with anybody, the feds ought to do their job, whether it's William-Paul or anyone else. Now if in some way, someone wanted to link him to me (or) anything (that) goes on in my office, I don't think he's been in there for about 20 years," Ellis said.

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