Corpus Christi City Councilman reports bribe by Port Commissioner

The Crónica reported it here first. A member of the Corpus Christi City Council, former United States Marine Billy Lerma said Thursday he reported to law enforcement that a candidate seeking his support for re-appointment to the Port Commission tried to bribe him- there is only one candidate seeking reappointment and that candidate is Port Commissioner Rick Valls.

City Councilman Billy Lerma, a former United States Marine was honorably discharged and is retired United States Postal Service employee. He was an elected member of the Tuloso Midway Independent School District. He believes strongly in his oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and the City of Corpus Christi.

Port Commissioner Richard ‘Rick’ Valls is currently under investigation by the Texas Rangers for bribery.

Public records prove Port Commissioner Rick Valls owns a business empire working out of the Port of Corpus Christi including a Shipping and Transport Company, a line handling company, a barge maintenance services company, a cleaning company, a Port land holding company, a management company, an equipment and services company, and a testing and verification company. Every single customer of Commissioner Rick Valls that comes into the Port of Corpus Christi, is also a customer of the Port of Corpus Christi-that is what creates the conflict. As a Port Commissioner, Rick Valls votes on what fees his personal business clients pay the Port.

The vast outreach of Commissioner Rick Valls’ Port businesses includes leases of more than 100,000 square feet signed by his employee, Port Director Sean Strawbridge, who just this year he a $50,000 bonus to, making him the highest public paid employee. Commissioner Rick Valls’ Port leases do not appear to come up for renewal or increase. Commissioner Rick Valls also uses the Ports website and security for his personal business purposes.

As a Commissioner, Rick Valls clearly is getting special treatment from the Port. Commissioner Rick Valls is believed to be the “mastermind” behind the Port hiring and paying Port lawyer Doug Allison, “husband“ of County Judge Barbara Canales, after she was elected and appointed Port Commissioners. Rick Valls is making sure that almost $1 million of public Port of Corpus Christi‘s money is being paid to Doug Allison and going directly into the household he shares with his “wife” County Judge Barbara Canales.

Due to the bribery allegation against Rick Valls, Sean Strawbridge has selected a back up candidate in Kleberg CEO/President Gabe Guerrra. Records show that Kleberg Bank has given loans to multiple City Council members, who still are saying they will vote for Kleberg’s Gabe Guerra, despite the possible conflict of interest. Records prove that Councilman Ben Molina is one of the recipients of the Kleberg Bank loans. Calls into Kleberg Bank continue to go unanswered. More information provided to us by the State Banking Commission is being investigated along with this story.

Tonight, one brave City Councilman, United States Navy Veteran Billy Lerma is a hero to the people of Corpus Christi. Billy Lerma has taken a stand against corruption. He has earned our support and respect.

The Crónica is going to continue to blow the lid off this developing story.