How Public Corruption Investigations Can Fail

Chris Callaway served as a Texas Ranger from 2012 to 2018 and worked on public integrity cases, including investigating both local officials and a legislator. Statewide, Rangers like him handled more than 560 cases involving corruption by local and state officials from 2015 to 2020. But few ended in prosecutions, a Texas Observer investigation found. Over the years, Callaway spotted problems in how some cases were handled. “I did the best I could, but a lot of obstacles were in the way,” he says. Callaway left DPS in 2020.

Texas Observer: In the last five years, more than 500 public corruption cases have been investigated by the Rangers all across Texas. How many Rangers and supervisors outside of the Rangers’ public integrity unit in Austin have expertise in these kinds of cases?

Callaway: Most don’t. The Rangers are a small group and the public integrity working group was even smaller. There’s three or four in Austin who do it full-time. The rest do it on an as-needed basis.

Why is a Ranger supervisor and often a district attorney asked to approve a public integrity or public corruption investigation before a Ranger can open one?

That policy was put into place by the Rangers division so we don’t find ourselves involved in taking out political adversaries. We’re not going to investigate an allegation of voter fraud in the middle of an election. They try on the investigative side to be objective. They’re ultimately concerned with their image—above all else. That’s the reason the [supervisors] started to vet some of those complaints.

Source: How Public Corruption Investigations Can Fail / Texas Observer

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