Texas lawmaker explains car owned by highway contractor

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by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on June 21, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 22 at 3:18 AM

NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES

State Rep. Linda Harper Brown's answers to questions about why she's driving a luxury car owned by a highway contractor isn't matching up with state records.

News 8 reported exclusively last week about the ethical cloud hanging over the Irving Republican's head as she sits on the House Transportation Committee.

Harper Brown saved what she called her "straight talk" for a campaign video, since she declined an interview with News 8. Her responses, however, just raised more questions.

State records show that the lawmaker drives a 2010 Mercedes valued at about $55,000, and that her husband, William Brown, drives a 2004 Chevy Tahoe. Both vehicles belong to a company owned by highway contractor Jeffrey Bryan.

Brown says Bryan is an accounting client, and he takes the vehicles for pay instead of cash.

Harper Brown revealed that she and her husband signed a prenuptial agreement, "And we keep our business interests completely separate to avoid any kind of conflicts."

But in a 30-minute phone conversation last week in defense of the arrangement, William Brown husband never brought that up.

A campaign spokesman didn’t return a call to say whether a copy of the prenuptial agreement would be made available.

Harper Brown said to set the record straight, her husband's dealings with Bryan's company that owns the cars, Durable Enterprises Equipment, stretch back to the 1980s.

"You see, my husband and I have always taken extra steps to make sure my personal financial statements fully comply with the law," Harper Brown said.

Yet records with the Secretary of State's office show that Durable Enterprises Equipment was incorporated in December, 2002 — just a month after Harper Brown was first elected to the Texas House.

Another Bryan company, Durable Specialties, was started in 1984 and has millions of dollars in highway contracts with state.

A Harper Brown campaign spokesman didn't return a call to News 8 to explain the discrepancies.

What appears straight is Harper Brown's direction into an election year ethics controversy.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

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