We first broke the news of White County JP Bud Osborn’s arrest for drunk driving back at Thanksgiving last fall. Then the paper followed our lead and picked up on it. It quickly became statewide news.
Then Osborn told the paper he ‘wasn’t highly intoxicated,’ maintaining that he was innocent.
And Judge Lincoln said he needed ‘more information’ before making a comment, and he ‘hoped all county officials would adhere to the law.’ He also ‘wasn’t sure’ if Osborn’s actions could lead to removal from office.
Then, when county officials were incredibly hesitant to call for Osborn’s resignation, I did.
Osborn told the paper on December 12, 2011 “I’m not guilty.” He reiterated that he would not resign, and Judge Lincoln remained silent. His primary opponent, Bill Haynie, called on Osborn to vacate his position.
Three JPs–Ed Land, Kenneth Horton, & Bobby Quattlebaum–said Osborn was ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and wouldn’t call for his resignation until after his hearing on January 5th.
January 5th came and Osborn plead ‘not guilty.’ His attorney said his client ‘may or may not have a case.’
And now, we know the answer was ‘may not.’
According to the paper, Osborn plead guilty at a hearing this week. His attorney, Mark Derrick, said he ‘had to enter a plea of not guilty in order to have time to look at the police reports and the case file.’ His attorney also says that Osborn knew he was guilty all along:
“He said he had some words with the people where he was at that day and then he got upset and left,” Derrick said. “He said, ‘I knew better. I screwed up. That’s it. I’ll admit to it.’”
So now that ‘we have more information,’ Judge Lincoln is going to stand up and lead, right? He’s going to call for Osborn’s resignation or removal from the court for breaking the law, right? Because Judge Lincoln believes in the rule of law, right?
Wrong. Lincoln has declined, once again, to call for Osborn’s removal from the court, even after Osborn has now been convicted, punting the issue to the quorum court:
“I guess we’ll wait to see what the Quorum Court’s reaction will be.”
Oh, how bold!
Now, Lincoln will tell you, “well, the court or the district court are the only ones that can remove him from office.’ But this doesn’t stop Lincoln from putting pressure on them–which he’s always happy to do when it involves a political favor–or from calling on Osborn to resign.
A county official has been convicted of a crime that could’ve resulted in a tragic death and Judge Lincoln still says “we’ll just have to wait and see what happens!” This is beyond a lack of leadership–this is just bad politics. I don’t want to give the judge any free campaign advice here, but good grief. If there was ever a time to take a stand for ethical, lawful government and defend the integrity of the county government, THIS IS IT. But Judge Lincoln once again fails to lead. He fails to stand up for integrity, something he was once thought to represent.
It’s time for the voters of White County to demand ethical conduct & leadership from their elected officials. Early voting starts Monday.