Feds:HISD executive took kickbacks from landscaping contractor

The feds say HISD Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby conspired with a landscaping contractor in exchange for “cash kickbacks.”

HOUSTON — Federal prosecutors are accusing a former high-ranking Houston ISD official of taking kickbacks from a district contractor, according to a newly filed court document n the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

The civil forfeiture complaint sheds light on why federal agents were at the Cypress home of HISD’s Chief Operating Officer in late February. They seized $90,150 from Brian Busby’s home, alleging that the school district COO conspired with an unnamed district landscaping contractor to approve proposals submitted by the contractor and to pay that business for work that it did not perform. 

Federal prosecutors also allege that, at times, HISD employees performed some of the work, often at overtime rates.

So far, nobody has been charged with a crime, but “in order to share the criminal proceeds the Contractor obtained from the fraud, the Contractor paid kickbacks to C.O.O. Busby, including cash kickbacks,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristine Rollinson wrote in the court filing.

RELATED: FBI conducting ‘court authorized law enforcement activity’ at HISD’s headquarters

The document also states the contractor would sometimes write checks from his business account to subcontractors, and have them cash the check and return most of the cash to the contractor. After Busby met with the contractor, he allegedly would structure multiple cash deposits into various bank accounts Busby controlled, according to the court filing.

Federal agents also seized more than $95,000 from the unnamed contractor.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office would not comment on the civil forfeiture or speculate on any possible criminal charges.

Attempts to reach Brian Busby for comment were not successful. An HISD spokesperson provided the following statement:

“HISD is not a party to

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Trump signs executive order barring critical-race theory training by federal contractors

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday barring federal funds from any contractors who conduct critical-race theory diversity training, saying it promotes a “destructive ideology.”

Expanding on action the White House took earlier this month with federal agencies, the president said the administration won’t allow “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating in the federal workforce” and won’t permit contractors “to inculcate such views in their employees.”

“Such ideas may be fashionable in the academy, but they have no place in programs and activities supported by federal taxpayer dollars,” the president said. “Research also suggests that blame-focused diversity training reinforces biases and decreases opportunities for minorities.”

Critical-race theory and “White privilege” diversity training had been on the rise in the administration before the White House moved this month to stop it. Mr. Trump’s order cites examples such as training materials from Argonne National Laboratories that stated racism “is interwoven into every fabric of America” and described statements like “color blindness” and the “meritocracy” as “actions of bias.”

Materials from Sandia National Laboratories for non-minority males stated that an emphasis on “rationality over emotionality” was a characteristic of “white male[s],” and asked those present to “acknowledge” their “privilege” to each other, Mr. Trump said.

“This destructive ideology is grounded in misrepresentations of our country’s history and its role in the world,” he said. “This ideology is rooted in the pernicious and false belief that America is an irredeemably racist and sexist country; that some people, simply on account of their race or sex, are oppressors; and that racial and sexual identities are more important than our common status as human beings and Americans.”

Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought said requiring or pressuring employees to attend training sessions “where they are told they are inherently racist is un-American.”

“President Trump’s

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