The Killeen City Council yeas and nays on an outside investigation of city finances came as no surprise to those who have followed the audit’s troubled birth.

Only two councilmen — Jim Kilpatrick and Juan Rivera — voted against approving the $394,000 contract for an external firm to investigate the city’s finances, and their votes should come as even less of a surprise after the Herald revealed March 11 the web of campaign money tying the two councilmen to former mayors of Killeen and a major local developer.

That network of pro-business influence — linked in part to a political action committee in 2016 run by former Mayor Dan Corbin and funded by local developer Bruce Whitis — provides a helpful road map to Rivera’s and Kilpatrick’s recent votes in which the councilmen attempted to kill two measures that would affect the developer community.

Related: Killeen council buckles down for audit ride

One of the measures is the outside investigation into the city’s handling of taxpayers’ and ratepayers’ money in recent years and the other is impact fees paid by developers. Residents clamored for a forensic audit of city finances after learning June 30 the city came up $8 million short of a balanced budget and had been overspending for years, then drawing money out of the operating fund savings account and moving money from ratepayer funds.

Prosperity Central Texas, the 2016 PAC managed by Corbin that is planning to contribute to more local campaigns in the May 6 city elections, is comprised of local business leaders and helps finance the campaigns of pro-business council members and state representatives, according to Corbin.

Some of the notable campaigns funded by the PAC in 2016 were those of Rivera, former Killeen Mayor Scott Cosper, Kim Hornsby and Tad Dorroh.

While properly conducted campaign financing is completely legal under state and local law, Killeen residents are left to ask — what special interests are involved in Killeen politics and do those interests affect council votes?

Here are four of the interconnected players in the audit turmoil.

Dan Corbin

Corbin, a local attorney and certified public accountant, led the council as mayor from 2012 to 2014 and was succeeded by Cosper from 2014 to 2016.

During that time, the city began experiencing a string of fiscal years in which expenditures outpaced revenues, shortfalls were predicted and questionable spending decisions were made, and the public were told less and less about what was going on.

Corbin went before the council at its workshop March 7 and roundly disputed suspicion of criminal activity in the city administration and portrayed the city’s troubled finances as “misunderstood” by the public and media.

On March 10, Corbin told the Herald that despite his connection to Whitis and funding of council campaigns, he didn’t believe any special interests pulled strings on the council.

In that phone call, Corbin also mentioned his experience with a group of influential community leaders known as the Committee of 12, or C-12.

Corbin said the group is comprised of local business leaders, developers, council representatives and Fort Hood brass who meet on a semi-regular basis to discuss strengthening the relationship between the city and post.

One longtime member of the group, according to Corbin, was local businessman Bill Yowell, who died in February. Corbin declined to name other members.

Killeen mayors are regularly asked to participate in the meetings, according to Corbin, but it remains unclear if Mayor Jose Segarra or other members of the council are a part of the group.

Bruce Whitis

Whitis is the owner of WB Development, Inc., and the chief executive officer of Action Pawn and Yango Engineering.

In 2016, Whitis was the sole seeder of the Prosperity Central Texas PAC, contributing $25,900 to local and state races.

Whitis’ company is a major residential developer in the area and is currently overseeing the building of 3,750 homes in the Bell County Municipal Utility District No. 2 — which the council approved in 2013 after a hotly contested vote and allegations of Corbin breaking council rules of protocol during the voting process.

As part of the Killeen finances audit approved Tuesday, external auditors will be investigating development agreements between the city and local developers to determine fraud or breach of best practices standards. That item will almost certainly include past agreements between Whitis’ company and the city, and could shed light on the city’s contractual obligations to the development community.

In 2015, Whitis individually contributed $1,500 to the campaign of Kilpatrick for the council’s District 3 seat.

Juan Rivera

Rivera was elected as a councilman at large in May 2016, and received multiple payments from Corbin’s PAC through KC Strategies, LLC, an Austin-based campaign consulting firm.

According to its website, KC Strategies specializes in consulting for GOP candidates.

“Our bottom line is electing Republicans to office at all levels of government,” the website reads.

Rivera recently voted against the audit, saying he could not reconcile the price tag for the audit when the city employed a city auditor, Matthew Grady, who is a certified forensic accountant.

However, even Grady pushed back Tuesday on the idea of handling the audit himself, saying the task was too large for one person, and the city wanted to ensure transparency and credibility in the investigation.

Despite repeated calls for an external audit, Rivera said on multiple occasions that if Grady couldn’t do the job himself, the council should fire him.

Although Rivera and City Manager Ron Olson have said Grady would remain autonomous if the investigation is conducted internally, five of the other council members have backed their constituents’ wishes to keep the investigation external and disconnected from the administration.

Grady, as city auditor, reports to the council, which could be a part of the audit.

Also Tuesday, Rivera voted against developer impact fees, which are one-time fees on building permits that would help defray the ballooning cost of infrastructure in the city. Rivera said impact fees limit development and create a poor business environment for potential investors and new industry.

The council has yet to decide whether the fees will impact residential or commercial developers, or both.

Jim Kilpatrick

Kilpatrick received direct campaign contributions from Whitis and Corbin in 2015 and joined Rivera in voting against the audit and impact fees.

Kilpatrick was the head of the ad-hoc committee shepherding the audit to a council vote, but publicly disputed the need ever since the council reached a consensus to engage Houston-based accounting firm McConnell & Jones to perform the audit in November.

After the firm presented the idea of performing a “management audit,” Kilpatrick has repeatedly said there is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in past city administrations and that an audit would be unnecessary and expensive.

Previous Herald reports have shown that a forensic audit does not need to be predicated on evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

When Kilpatrick spoke against the audit Tuesday, he claimed that the majority of his constituents did not want an audit based on unscientific polling he performed himself. Other council members said the vast majority of their constituents supported the audit and thought it would help boost trust in the city and council.


The Prosperity Central Texas general-purpose political action committee managed by Dan Corbin and funded by Bruce Whitis shelled out $25,900 to local and state campaigns in 2016.

Here are each of the PAC’s payments:

$5,000 — Scott Cosper — Former Killeen mayor’s campaign for Texas District 54

$3,000 — Tad Dorroh — Killeen City Council at large

$2,950 — Juan Rivera (through consultant) — Killeen City Council at large

$2,950 — Juan Rivera (through consultant) — Killeen City Council at large

$1,000 — Susan King — Texas District 24 senator

$2,000 — Juan Rivera — Killeen City Council at large

$4,000 — Kimberly Hornsby — Killeen City Council at large seat

$5,000 — Scott Cosper — Former Killeen mayor’s campaign for Texas District 54

kyleb@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7567

(7) comments

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal comment of this writer.
@Pharon Enoch: I reside in the district known as #3 and I can tell you outright, Councilman Kilpatrick has not, or will not take the time nor the effort to contact me as a resident in the 3rd district. He is aware of what I may say to him. But it would seem rather strange to report anything that vaguely resembles a negative vote from this district as it is well known that the Killeen newspaper, when responding of the question. And I paraphrase here: What was the outcome of the citizens when asked whether or not they favored the Audit, and it was approximately 85% positive or for the audit. Now if councilman Kilpatrick is/was correct when he stated the overwhelming negative response, in that case, they must all live in the 3rd district.
And as to your comment about 'who will/should vote in the upcoming election, I will just say this, one one who is not a citizen should be voting, period. Furthermore, as I've said before, open the council positions to 7 council persons city wide, in that way you will get better representation of 'just what is going on in this city'. It matters not what district the person is from, what is important is 'who is in the best view to see what is going on in this city besides the select few. And I also want upu to know that John Wayne and Red Skelton were in the top 10 of citizens who would not hesitate to say anything to anyone regarding this great country we reside in. Too bad we don't have more like them.
Just saying.
One of the few who voted.

Pharon Enochs

The following comments are indeed the opinion of Pharon Enochs I do not live in District 3 but It would be great if someone conducted a real poll to ascertain the real number of folks who support the audit vs those who do not support it. Another question might ask how many were contacted by Kilpatrick and the answer they provided . I bet the results would be interesting at least. Come on folks in District 3 are you game ? Let the fun begin !!!!!!!!!

Pharon Enochs

The following comments are in deed the opinions of Pharon Enochs Sad to say I was not surprised regarding the information contained in this article. I have always felt the two groups which have a well placed vested interest in Killeen politics are realtors/developers and KISD employees. One would only have to look and note how many developers/realtors or those associated with the real estate industry have or are serving on the council. Then I guess it is only natural there might be a PAC or SIG to represent this faction of the community. The same could be said about KISD. A look at the board membership shows many members of this board and other boards are composed of retired staff or teachers from the district. Although KISD is not a factor in this discussion it does help to illustrate Killeen is primary a military town, hence many of those living here are very transit and do not have much interest in the politics within the city. I was a tad bit surprise to note there was only one business man---developer was the only or at least the major contributor to the organization controlled by Corbin. Regarding the C12, older editions of the KDH indicated there are actually two C12S', the new C12 and the old C12. If I recall correctly the older C12 was or is composed of former mayors, selected council members and business folks who meet at undisclosed locations to discuss business problems, council decisions and issues which are on the city's up coming agendas as well as other business interest in the city . Few if any names were ever mentioned as to who were members of the C12S'S. As I understand it there are those who felt the C12 ideas or interest and recommended solutions in upcoming issues facing the city council to include upcoming agenda items were related back to the mayor and/or city council members of choice which indeed had an impact on council decisions. If this is true or not is left to the thoughts of our citizens. I stop to wonder if there is a shadow government which contributes to political decisions within our city ? I also note that an ordinary working citizen would have trouble making city council meetings or work shops due to the time meetings are conducted. Normal 8-5 working folks would either miss the meetings or at least be late. I recall a former mayor publicly chastised a former council member for being late or missing city council meetings. It just so happened this member had recently obtained a job in Temple thus had no vacation, sick lease or personal time to use to attend the meetings. It appears you need to own a business, be self employed have a generous boss to allow time off or use personal time to attend meetings. So the cry for citizens to get involved , run for city council is mute, hence it appears the good old boys have a tight grip on council positions due to the clock. This may be a factor in why a lack of interest in running for office. Another factor may be the PAC/SIG which may make some feel why try the good old boys control the elections. It could be felt this way because some feel the recall of council members was a good thing and long over due but in spite of the recall, two members who were recalled were later re elected perhaps because of the support of PAC/SIG. After the recall I believe Mr. Corbin was instrumental in leading and supporting the effort to change the city policy on recall procedures making it even more difficult to conduct a recall. If I recall ( no pun intended) correctly he also argued the successful recall was not conducted correctly. Will this new information from the KDH spark the interest of the silent majority to get out and vote or will the PAC/SIG rally and wins again ? Only us the voters can answer that question Will the citizens of Killeen lose patients with this council who does not do as we ask or rise above special interest politics in the city and get out and vote or go the extreme route and organized another recall ? Again only we, the citizens of Killeen can answer this question. l, me, an individual and a party of one will make my decisions known at the ballot box for those I feel have the interest of the city and her citizens in mind not those who have self interest in mind or to pay back favors to anyone or organization. I will also my make my decisions known at the ballot box and if a recall election is held for those who do not hold the best interest of the city and us citizens foremost and those who hold self interest and pay back to organizations which supported them as most important. I urge all to vote no matter the outcome you need to do your part to preserve this special freedom we all have as citizens. There are those who wish to step on this freedom by letting illegal aliens vote God bless the USA. our president, President Trump and John Wayne where ever he may be

Alvin
Alvin

This is the personal opinion of this writer.
Copy: 'In the interest of full disclosure, the Killeen daily herald should admit that to them, a "special interest" is any interest or issue they disagree with. American citizens have an absolute right to be active in politics and contribute to candidates of their choice. Lets try to avoid the fake news. End of copy.
@Don76550: 'define for me please your interpretation of 'Special interest, or special interest to be an interest or issue in which they disagree with', and the term, 'Fake news'.
As with the flow of this city's politics, you would include, as you already have, 'Fake news' as 'something in which the majority of citizens 'do not agree with your point of view. The same can hold true with the accounting of 'special Interests'.
When you see that 85% of the citizens hold true to the concept that 'any newspaper reports that the audit should be forthcoming, then the citizens 'must be wrong'. Is this a true representation????
First let me say that it is refreshing to see the results of a newspaper that 'reports on the news or some proximity to it'. I congratulate this reporter for 'reporting in depth, the news'.
@Overseer: I whole heartily agree with your assessment, but another one of the names mentioned is none other than our mayor Seggara who has cast the deciding vote on at least 2 of the recent builder/developer schemes. Now with that 'out of the way', please continue reading.
Copy: 'That network of pro-business influence — linked in part to a political action committee in 2016 run by former Mayor Dan Corbin and funded by local developer Bruce Whitis — provides a helpful road map to Rivera’s and Kilpatrick’s recent votes in which the councilmen attempted to kill two measures that would affect the developer community. End of copy.
This action by Corbin was most influential in 'Manhandling the council' into directing the flow which was to lead to the $5 million dollar 'down payment', the reasoning by the then city manager Morrison, of the option to provide water from Stillhouse Hollow lake/reservoir, which is 'in the general direction' of the new proposed direction/location of the future housing development being proposed by Bruce Whitis, owner of WB Development, Inc. It was thru the direction of Corbin, as city mayor, that this was to come to fruition. Later came the fiasco that involved the city of Georgetown and how the attributes to this venture became known. Now the question remains; 'does this, the Georgetown adventure, in any way affect or contribute to the ability to supply the quantity of the proposed 10 MGD of water????' This city has still not been provided the general public with that answer. Another question that has come up is the fact that 'they are questioning the fact that 'this city should 'go for the now question of banking water'. Is this to be 'part of the solution to an never ending question, 'is this city going to be up the creek as far as the ability to supply the required 10 MGD of water from Stillhouse Hollow'???? And 'why is Bruce Whitis and associates questioning this very fact instead of the city of Killeen???? It would seem to me that this very question should be 'on the table' as far as supplying the required water flow/volume, and not a builder of this project.

Copy: 'Dan Corbin
Corbin, a local attorney and certified public accountant, led the council as mayor from 2012 to 2014 and was succeeded by Cosper from 2014 to 2016. End of copy.
Did he or did he not 'pressure the council into voting for this measure' and if so, 'Why did he not pursue this with Georgetown???? That's a question that many of us are still waiting on an answer.
But I digress, with the council being in full stroke of this forensic audit AKA Management Audit, and the 2 main characters as being 'the main characters that are holding up the progress of this audit, now we will see what will happen here'.
With the Cosper fiasco that preceded, in my mind and in direct reflection of this personal opinion, this action by Corbin was most influential in 'Manhandling the council' into directing the flow which was to lead to the $5 million dollar 'down payment', by the then city manager Morrison, of the option to provide water from Stillhouse Hollow lake/reservoir, which is 'in the general direction' of the new proposed direction/location of the future housing development being proposed by Bruce Whitis, owner of WB Development, Inc. It was thru the direction of Corbin, as city mayor, that this was to come to fruition. Later came the fiasco that involved the city of Georgetown and what the attributes to this venture became known. Now the question remains; 'does this, the Georgetown adventure, in any way affect or contribute to the ability to supply the quantity of the proposed 10 MGD of water????' This city has still not been provided with that answer. Another question that has come up is the fact that 'they are questioning the fact that 'this city should 'go for the now question of banking water'. Is this to be 'part of the solution to an ever questioning, 'is this city going to be up the creek as far as the ability to supply the required 10 MGD of water from Stillhouse Hollow'???? And 'why is Bruce Whitis and associates questioning this very fact instead of the city of Killeen???? It would seem to me that this very question should be 'on the table' as far as supplying the required water flow/volume, not a builder of this project.
This is to approach the general operation of this city management. If this is not the general attenuation of what I hold as my personal opinion, then the question is: 'In what direction is the city of Killeen headed.
One of the few who voted.

don76550

In the interest of full disclosure, the Killeen daily herald should admit that to them, a "special interest" is any interest or issue they disagree with. American citizens have an absolute right to be active in politics and contribute to candidates of their choice. Lets try to avoid the fake news.

Pharon Enochs

I do not take issue with you on your comment except to say you could be doing the same thing as you suggested to the KDH. Just figured I would mention it. Most know what opinions are defined as ------ --- ---- --- ---- ----- --- --- --- ---- -- -----

overseer

Let me first start off by saying, "Wow Kyle! My hat is off to you on this story. This is very eye opening."
To the overall story at hand: it does appear to me, despite the recent claims of, I believe four candidates from the previous forum, that none of them know anything about and deny the existence of a "Good ole boy" network. What appears to be unfortunate in this sense is that a few of them are names listed in this article with the other two gentlemen's views ranging from surprising to expected in regards of their comments. In my point of view, to disapprove the audit would most definitely spell political suicide for the members who would vote against it, but alas, we live in the city of Killeen where anything is possible. A place where even the obviously tainted heart can still be voted in by people who know the truth about them.
I applaud those council members who voted in favor of the audit while I also boo at those who did not support the type of audit the citizens asked for. In my quest to be objective, I must inquire of Mr. Kilpatrick' concerning resources to perform a questionnaire and polling large enough to encompass the majority of district 3. For Mr. Rivera - I have to inquire of his "Out of line" harassment of our city auditor. In the words of a famous doctor, "Are you mad man?!"(Dr. McCoy from Star Trek). It appears that he has reached a new low of hypocrisy in this matter. For the sitting council member who denied the knowing/existence of any "GON", along with Mr. Kilpatrick. To the siting Councilman that praised Mr. Kilpatrick' claim of the not being one, I have a sense that his vote may have been bittersweet. Maybe I am incorrect but that is only my opinion.
I will finish with this. Any candidate funded by the aforementioned names in this article must be, by unfortunate default as some may not know what and who they have entangled themselves with, looked at with a fine tooth comb. I had a chance to listen to a good portion of the recording from one of the candidates websites today and I was made aware of the candidates who expressed a disbelief in a "GON". The names: Jim Kilpatrick, Brockley Moore, Debbie Nash-King and Kenny Wells. There was also one newcomer who, in my sincere evaluation, did not know whether there was truly one or not. I have my coffee and blanket ready for the next article on this story.

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