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Lawmaker: Brown County officials showed lack of oversight on donation program

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BROWN COUNTY, Texas - A Republican lawmaker claims Brown County officials showed a lack of oversight when it came to monitoring the county attorney's controversial pre-trial diversion donation program.

"In law there are types of diversions you can do, but when you attach it to a donation and then that person goes free, I have a problem with that," State Rep. Mike Lang, R-Granbury (District 60) told KTXS on Tuesday.

Lang released a letter Monday night stating Shane Britton's program should "already have been terminated."

He also responded to comments Brown County Judge Ray West made Monday at commissioners court.

"As per our conversation in my office in Austin, there is a problem with the donation program in the county attorney's office," Lang said in his letter. "There seems to be little or no oversight from this office or from the commissioners' court."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton found Britton's program unconstitutional and it's also at the center of a bribery and corruption investigation that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock is conducting on the county attorney. Under the program, defendants in misdemeanor cases were allowed to enter into a pre-trial agreement and pay his office a donation. Oftentimes their charges were lessened or removed off their record.

Lang said he filed House Bill 2273 because it "will do the 'right thing' for the citizens of Brown County." His bill seeks to repeal statues that allowed Britton to create the pre-trial diversion donation program.

"This is something that's specific to Brown County and the Brown County Attorney's Office," Lang told KTXS. "The bill doesn't change the current means by which an entity can partake in pre-trial diversion, because that's already covered in the code of criminal procedure."

West told commissioners on Monday that during his visit in Austin last week, he met with Lang and Sen. Dawn Buckingham. Both of them told him they were concerned about Britton's program.

West told commissioners both lawmakers were filing bills in response to reports in the press, but Lang refuted those claims.

"[Britton's pre-trial diversion donation program] is not correct for the rule of law," Lang told KTXS. "We've had people reach out to me and my staff who don't want to be named."

Brown County Commissioners approved the creation of the Brown County Attorney Donation Fund in 2007.

Last month, KTXS reported Britton used some of those funds to go on vacations.

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