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State senator files bill calling for legal action in connection with secret art collection inside Harris County shed

Senate Bill 252 comes nearly a year after KPRC 2 Investigates exposed huge collection of African art being stored at public’s expense

HOUSTON – State Sen. Paul Bettencourt says he is putting pressure on the District Attorney’s Kim Ogg Office over a nearly year-long investigation into African art being stored on taxpayers’ dime inside of a shed in Commissioner Rodney Ellis’ Precinct One.

“If the local District Attorney won’t do anything about it, then we give concurrent jurisdiction to the AG and they can file charges,” Bettencourt said.

Friday’s announcement of proposed Senate Bill 252 comes after Channel 2 Investigates first exposed secret massive art collection being warehoused on the taxpayers’ dime, “Legally what this bill means is that I don’t think that what Precinct One Commissioner is doing is legal. I don’t think you can take a private Art collection, house it, spend public money, do private tours, I don’t think that is the right thing under the Texas Code,” said Bettencourt.

KPRC 2′s additional reporting on the African art.

The state senator out of District 7 doesn’t believe the actions taken by Ellis and his office is legal.

“They can’t be doing this on the public dime,” Bettencourt said.

Bettencourt also pointed out that for nearly two years, “no one is paying is property taxes on it.”

Ogg recently did not comment on her office’s investigation in the artwork and Commissioner Rodney Ellis. Ogg’s office probe launched weeks after our initial report, according to county officials.

Bettencourt said this bill is to ensure accountability at the state level if the Ogg’s office does nothing.

This is bill is designed to get a resolution if all else fails,” he said.

When asked by Channel 2 Investigates about his comments and no mention of an ongoing federal investigation. Bettencourt indicated he cannot speak to federal operations, but he can speak to the state and its laws.

Channel 2 Investigates will have more on this story tonight on the Channel 2 News at 6.


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