Members of the Harris County Election Commission voted 4-1 to approve Clifford Tatum’s appointment as Harris County’s next elections administrator on Aug. 16.
Tatum can officially assume his position once he posts a bond of up to $20,000 per Section 31.040 of the Texas Election Code. The bond is a document that allows the county to collect if an official fails to perform their duties “faithfully,” according to First Assistant County Attorney Jonathan Fombonne. It is likely to be approved at the Aug. 23 Commissioners Court meeting at which he would be sworn in to the role.
Cindy Siegel, chair of the Harris County Republican Party, opposed the appointment at the Aug. 16 meeting and put forth a motion to rescind Tatum’s offer and have the Harris County clerk run the elections.
“Information was disclosed after we made the initial offer and was made public related to how some previous elections have been run under Mr. Tatum,” Siegel said.
She did not directly state to which information she was referring during the meeting, and her motion was not seconded by another member of the commission.
Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, moved to end the debate, setting up the final vote for Tatum’s appointment. He told Community Impact Newspaper he was not surprised by Siegel’s no vote, and said Tatum had passed a criminal background check “with flying colors.”
In a statement, Siegel said she had asked the recruiter for Tatum’s position and Harris County Attorney staff about issues with Tatum’s background for a month.
“Harris County voters deserve transparency,” Siegel said.
Tatum said in an email he looks forward to serving voters in Harris County and working with a professional team to run smooth elections.
The commission voted unanimously to appoint Tatum as the new elections administrator on July 5. Before serving as an elections attorney, Tatum had previously served as the District of Columbia’s elections administrator and the interim director for Georgia’s elections.