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Editorial: SA mayor, council members under investigation
Guest ColumnApril 3, 2013 | 1,524 views | 3 comments
On March 25, the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) notified San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and eight members of the city council that they were being investigated for multiple campaign finance violations. According to the TEC press release, the mayor and city council members Diego Bernal; Cris Medina; Rey Saldana; Ivy Taylor; Leticia Ozuna; Ray Lopez; and Reed Williams were all being investigated for more than 1,000 violations. The mayor and council members Cris Medina and Diego Bernal had the most alleged violations with more than 200 each.
Texas law prohibits corporations and labor organizations from making political contributions to candidates, officeholders, and related specific-purpose committees. Contributions to GPACs are also restricted. The prohibition also applies to other organizations, such as partnerships and limited liability companies, if they are owned by a corporation or include an incorporated member or partner.
Forty-one instances of accepting donations from corporations, a third degree felony offense, are documented in the complaints including McDonalds, Holiday Inns, and Texas Association of Realtors. Besides the complaints against the nine elected officials, there are 15 complaints against the corporations who contributed to the campaigns. Pending the results of the TEC investigations, the Texas Ethics Advisory Board will refer any felonies to Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed.
Allegations also include the diversion of campaign funds to personal use, which, if confirmed, would make Mayor Castro and council members Cris Medina and Diego Bernal and others civilly liable to the state of Texas including court costs. Other allegations relate to the failure to report out of state travel, filing late reports, and having serious contribution balance discrepancies -- unaccounted for money.
The mayor and council members have until April 15 to answer to the allegations. Their signed campaign finance reports place them under the penalty of perjury because it was their responsibility to check reports for accuracy and full disclosure.
The complaints were filed by Jim Doyle, Bill Berntsen, Alvin Schleiske, and Tom Curry, well-known Woodlands TEA party supporters and community activists. They are members of a large group of citizen-taxpayers who conduct statewide audits of progressive candidates, officeholders, and political action committees who contribute to the runaway growth of government and the loss of constitutional authority.
Castro and the city council came on to the citizen-taxpayers’ radar when domestic partners benefits were approved in 2011 after 43 citizens spoke in opposition, while only seven supported the item in a council meeting. Castro and the majority council are again ignoring citizens’ will as they push for streetcars after the issue had been voted down.
In conclusion, it is ironic that the mayor and some of his closest allies have come under investigation for TEC violations. During the Pre-K campaign in 2012, the Castro Machine threatened a TEC complaint against their leading opponent. Less than four months later, many Pre-K questions are still unanswered and it is the mayor and his supporters who are being investigated.
George Rodriguez is president of the South Texas Alliance for Progress and can be followed on Facebook on “El Conservador.”
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