Three Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority board members are under scrutiny. An independent investigation exposed business interests they reportedly did not disclose related to the Mopac Improvement Project.
Teresa-Perez Wiseley has lived near Mopac Expressway for 39 years. She's seen the traffic nightmare unfold before her eyes.
Now, the once again, delayed Mopac Improvement Project is just adding to her frustration.
“I think this neighborhood we get a lot of abuse because of the traffic,” she said.
In the middle of the project, the Texans for Public Justice Organization launched an investigation into the board members on the CTRMA. What they found, surprised them.
“We found a variety of companies, more than a dozen companies, tied to these three board members that were not disclosed on the personal financial statements they make each year,” Andrew Wheat, Research Director for Texas for Public Justice, said.
Wheat says Ray Wilkerson, James Mills, and Charles Heimsath were not transparent. He says Wilkerson's situation is especially important.
“He had five entities that he appears to be very associated with, business entities. Each of these entities owns a commercial property here in town,” Wheat said.
The properties are located in the same area as the toll road additions and construction.
According to the TPJ, those entities are valued at more than $17 million.
“I don't know whether to call it greed, that's just not style of politics Austin says it carries,” Perez-Wiseley said.
Since Perez-Wiseley lives right along Mopac, she feels she has a right to know what's going on, and the authority should be transparent.
“If they're going to be open they need to be open. They need to explain who they're related to, where they have investments,” she said.
“If these individuals are making decisions about where highways with price tags of hundreds of millions of dollars go around Central Texas, then we need to know how those decisions affect their personal lives as well,” Wheat said.
CTRMA responded to the allegations with a statement:
We will of course investigate these claims and respond as needed, in keeping with legal processes. The “CTRMA and its board uphold the highest ethical standards and take great pride in representing the best interests of Central Texans and their transportation needs.”
-Mike Heiligenstein, Executive Director, CTRMA
If the allegations are true, the members could face hefty fines.