Richard Husen, Republican challenger for Hockley County District Attorney, answered questions from the Sandstorm Scholar Wednesday and admitted he has in excess of $135,000 in federal tax liens. Husen, former Levelland City Attorney, is running against incumbent District Attorney Chris Dennis.
The five federal tax liens filed against Husen by the Internal Revenue Service cover tax years 2005, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2013 totaling $135,793.83. The liens were filed during a period from 12/29/2014 through 3/2/2015. The liens are for 1040 taxes, i.e., individual income taxes.
Husen said that the liens were the result of his double reporting certain income which he earned as Levelland City Attorney and deposited into his law partnership account. That income, reported on a W-2, was reported twice, according to Husen.
Husen: "I did not deem it relevant to the issues that are facing the district attorney's office."
Husen served as city attorney for 30½ years before retiring in 2015. He said the tax liens had nothing to do with his departure from the city of Levelland position. Husen said he and his accountant have filed amended returns correcting the income number.
"Since we discovered that the amount of income being reported was actually substantially in excess of what was earned we have filed amended returns, both partnership and individual, for each one of those years. And since that time the amount that we have paid to the IRS is everything that we believe that was owed including interest. Right now it is my understanding that what the IRS is doing is going back and reconciling what I have paid with what would have been properly reported," said Husen.
We asked Husen if the pressure of owing the federal government $135,000 created a vulnerability which criminal elements might seek to exploit?
"I don't agree that it creates a vulnerability operating the DA office because this concerns years well prior to my taking office. As far as I know most if not all of the amount owed has been paid. I don't agree that this creates any pressure or vulnerability from anyone who I would be in office prosecuting," responded Husen.
Sandstorm Scholar contacted incumbent District Attorney Chris Dennis for comment.
Dennis: "I don't care how you slice it, a need that large creates a vulnerability. To say otherwise kind of ignores common sense."
"I certainly think that type of exposure creates a certain type of need; and I don't care how you slice it, a need that large creates a vulnerability. To say otherwise kind of ignores common sense so far as I'm concerned," said District Attorney Dennis.
When asked if he disclosed the issue as part of the campaign Husen said he had not. null "I did not deem it relevant to the issues that are facing the district attorney's office that prompted me to announce my candidacy," said Husen.
Dennis disagrees. "It tends to indicate there are some management issues that might need to be examined," said the District Attorney.
Dennis said he manages a $485,216 annual budget.
What issues prompted Husen to run?
"The issues that are important and becoming more and more important are the number of cases pending. At any different time they have been increasing. They file 25 – 30 felonies a month but are only disposing of half that number."
Sandstorm Scholar asked if the District Judge had primary responsibility for managing the court docket?
Husen agreed that he does, but added, "The judge is somewhat limited to whether the DA is ready to try cases."
Husen offered no evidence that DA Dennis has not been ready to try cases.
Dennis says he is proud of his ability to move cases.
District Attorney Dennis responded to Husen's allegation saying, "There is an increase in cases filed. Crime is increasing. I dispute the idea that only half that number are being moved. That isn't true."
Dennis says he is proud of his ability to move cases and pointed to the Texas Courts website to validate his claim.
The website document, called Performance Measures, says, "A court should have a minimum goal of achieving a civil backlog index of 1.0 or less. On average, criminal cases should be disposed more quickly than major civil cases, so courts should maintain a lower backlog index for criminal cases than civil cases."
The accompanying document ranking the Hockley Co. District Court for fye 2015 shows a backlog rate of .6 for criminal cases. This suggests the court is operating effectively.
Early voting for the Republican Primary continues through Friday. The Primary Election takes place Tuesday March 1. Both candidates appear on the Republican Primary ballot.
Richard Husen Tax Liens