LISD Releases Statement Regarding Polk County District Clerk's Office, LIVINGSTON, May 21, 2015 - The Livingston Independent School District communicated to the Polk County District Clerk's Office in 2014 regarding funding that was to be distributed to the Polk County school districts from the sale of real property tax foreclosures. The following is a press release from LISD:
Last year, Polk County school officials communicated to Polk County District Clerk Kathy Clifton their concerns that surplus proceeds of real property tax foreclosures were not being timely disbursed to the Polk County school districts as required by Texas law. The backlog of undisbursed surplus proceeds from real property tax foreclosure sales is believed to date back to 1999. In spirit of cooperation to bring an amicable resolution to this matter, Livingston ISD offered to share professional staff with the District Clerk’s Office in order to assist with the processing of backlog of undisbursed proceeds. The District Clerk's Office did make several disbursements to the school districts during the past twelve months, but we have not determined how much the total proceeds remain nor do we have a timeline for the remainder of reimbursements. We remain poised to continue to work through this process. Polk County is an outstanding place full of leadership that will continue to work to bring closure to this matter.
Polk County District Attorney: District Clerk Kathy Clifton Submits Letter of Resignation, LIVINGSTON, May 21, 2015 - According to Polk County Criminal District Attorney, William Lee Hon, Polk County District Clerk, Kathy Clifton has submitted her letter of resignation effective immediately. The following is a press release from Hon:
RESIGNATION OF POLK COUNTY DISTRICT CLERK KATHY CLIFTON
In a letter dated May 21, 2015 addressed to Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy, Kathy E. Clifton resigned her position as Polk County District Clerk effective immediately. Clifton’s resignation follows an investigation by the Office of the Texas Attorney General into the financial management and practices of the Polk County District Clerk’s Office which was commenced at my request in September of 2014. On Wednesday, May 20, 2015, investigators and forensic auditors with the Attorney General’s office executed evidentiary search warrants on Clifton’s office and residence. All information and evidence recovered in those searches will be analyzed by investigators and auditors of the Attorney General’s office.
As a result of Clifton’s resignation and pursuant to the provisions of the Texas Government Code, any decision regarding the appointment of a successor District Clerk will rest with Polk County District Judges Kaycee Jones and Ernie McClendon. In the interim, the financial management of the District Clerk’s office will be coordinated between existing District Clerk’s staff and Polk County Auditor Margie Ainsworth.
I would like to thank Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s staff for all of their efforts in this investigation.
Polk County District Clerk's Office Under Investigation, LIVINGSTON, May 20, 2015 - The following is a press release from Polk County District Attorney, William Lee Hon:
In the spring of 2014, the Office of the Polk County Criminal District Attorney was first made aware of concerns by Polk County school district officials that surplus proceeds of real property tax foreclosures were not being timely disbursed by Polk County District Clerk Kathy Clifton in accordance with Texas law to the various taxing entities. As a consequence of this issue, the Polk County Auditor and Polk County’s independent outside auditing firm Belt, Harris, Pechacek, LLP of Houston began an effort to independently reconcile the various ledgers, books and bank accounts under the supervision of Ms. Clifton. After uncovering a number of areas of accounting concern, the auditors determined and requested that a criminal investigation be conducted. Toward this end, on September 24, 2014 I requested the assistance of the Office of the Texas Attorney General in the investigation of the financial practices of the Polk County District Clerk. Over the following eight months, that investigation was conducted by investigators and forensic auditors of the Financial Crimes and Public Integrity Division of the Attorney General’s Office. During that investigation, Attorney General investigators uncovered additional financial irregularities which necessitated physical access to the various files, books, ledgers and computers maintained by the Polk County District Clerk. In that connection, on Tuesday, May 19, 2015, Attorney General investigators sought and obtained an evidentiary search warrant from Senior District Judge James Keeshan of Montgomery County authorizing a physical search and inspection of the Polk County District Clerk’s Office by law enforcement officials pursuant to the provisions of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. That search was conducted on Wednesday, May 20, 2015. The investigation is ongoing at this time.
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