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Burnet County HR director resigns after AG’s nepotism ruling

Sara Ann Luther and Jim Luther

Burnet County Human Resources Director Sara Ann Luther (left) makes a presentation to the Commissioners Court in August. Her husband, Jim Luther Jr. (right), is the Precinct 1 commissioner. She resigned on Oct. 23 after an opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s Office ruled she was ineligible to work in the position because of state nepotism laws. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Burnet County Human Resources Director Sara Ann Luther resigned on Monday, Oct. 23, after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a ruling opinion that her hiring violated the state’s anti-nepotism provision. Luther is the wife of Burnet County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jim Luther. 

“Pursuant to Government Code section 573.083, a public official who makes, confirms, or votes for an appointment or confirmation of an ineligible individual or who approves an account or authorizes the drawing of a warrant or order to pay the individual’s salary potentially commits a misdemeanor involving official misconduct,” concludes the summary of AG opinion No. KP-0449. 

According to Burnet County Attorney Eddie Arredondo, who requested the attorney general’s opinion on the matter in a June 2 letter, no charges against Luther will be filed. 

“She has resigned, so that is not an issue at this point,” he told “She has worked in this position since 2018. The statute of limitation has long run out. If this was something brand new, we might have had to (consider charges).” 

Arredondo announced Luther’s resignation to county employees in an Oct. 23 email. 

“Ms. Sara Ann Luther will no longer serve as the Director of the Burnet County Human Resources Offices,” reads the email obtained by “Ms. Luther has learned via an opinion issued by the Texas Attorney General this morning that she doesn’t qualify for this position.”

In a good-humored “reply to all,” Luther said she would “respectfully suggest that I was ineligible rather than not qualified,” adding a colon and a closed parentheses to represent a smiley face emoji. 

“The past five years have been wonderful and I leave with many new friends and good memories,” she continued in the email. “I wish you all the best!” 

Jim Luther was elected Precinct 1 commissioner in November 2016. Sara Ann was hired 18 months later. Her interview was conducted by outgoing Human Resources Director Shirley Bullard, HR Assistant Connie Wofford, and Burnet County Treasurer Karrie Crownover. Burnet County Judge James Oakley told in an Aug. 7 story that this was done intentionally because of personal connections.

“Because Jim was on the court and because I knew (Sara Ann) well, I didn’t want to have anything to do with the process,” he said at the time. “We left it to (Bullard) to form a committee and handle the job posting, interviews, all of it.

According to the AG opinion, delegating a committee to hire someone has been done before and is legal: County commissioners may delegate the hiring to the county judge, who may delegate it to a committee. However, hiring someone who fits the nepotism description is not legal. 

“A court would likely conclude that a county judge who is delegated the commissioners court’s implied authority to employ persons may not appoint the spouse of a county commissioner to a paid county position,” reads a bolded section on page 3 of the AG opinion.

Having an human resources director who reports to a government body that includes a spouse is a violation of the state’s anti-nepotism provision, the opinion continues. As long as Jim Luther is on the Burnet County Commissioners Court, Sara Ann is not eligible to serve in a paid position for the county, according to the ruling.

2 thoughts on “Burnet County HR director resigns after AG’s nepotism ruling

  1. If they authorized payroll last month or even her final paycheck, isn’t that within the statute of limitations?

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