Allegations of anti-union and campaign finance stumbling arose in the Parker County sheriff’s race 36 days before Republicans choose which of the two men will get a shot at an unfinished two-year term.
The race, which has no Democratic nominee but a presumed hope in Libertarian Russell Hess, pits incumbent Russ Authier against Hudson Oaks Mayor Marc Povero.
The union’s demands precede a cease and desist order to Authier of the Combined Texas Law Enforcement Agencies, an officer defense union with memberships in most Texas police and sheriff departments.
CLEAT claims in its January 18 letter that a member of Authier’s command staff sent an office-wide email discouraging CLEAT membership. The association backed Povero in the March 1 primary.
Authier said any use of county property for personal purposes has been “addressed.”
Authier did not elaborate on or comment on Povero’s financial reports that indicate he began collecting and spending contributions months before filing the form that enables these basic activities for candidates.
Povero says his mayoral campaign overlap caused him and his campaign treasurer, Brian Lixey, to file inaccurate reports that will be corrected. He also posted his complaint about the CLEAT email on his social media.
“I’m glad to see the story come out because it really angered and worried some people in the sheriff’s office,” Povero said Friday. “It’s a little disturbing. This is why the deputies must be represented. There needs to be a fundamental culture change at the sheriff’s office.
CLEAT executive director Charley Wilkison wrote in the January 18 letter that the union plans to pursue “any action necessary or appropriate in the circumstances to vigorously enforce our rights or remedies.”
“There are people who have official evidence that they were told to drop CLEAT,” Wilkison said Friday. “We have affidavits, and we’ll go that route.”
Authier was appointed by county commissioners nearly a year ago when Sheriff Larry Fowler died. The office on the primary ballot is until 2024, when another race is scheduled for a full four-year sheriff’s term.
“I’m not going to respond to CLEAT on this (letter),” Authier said, adding that it would be up to county prosecutors to pursue the money law issue. “It’s not our decision to make, if this is to be continued. I know (public figures) live in a fishbowl, and we are expected to do better than most.
Povero’s record shows him collecting 15 contributions — and incurring five campaign expenses — before declaring Lixey his campaign treasurer in July. He and Lixey said they were aware of the misstep and were correcting it with the Texas Ethics Commission, which oversees campaign finance.
“I will be filing amended forms,” Lixey said, adding that he will do so with both the state agency and the Parker County office of elections. “It was an unintentional accident. It’s up to him to run for mayor. We’re filing the amended paperwork that the ethics committee said I should take care of.
Povero released the following statement on Friday:
“I am aware of questions regarding my campaign finance report and, in particular, the acceptance of campaign contributions before appointing a campaign treasurer for the sheriff. As an elected mayor of Hudson Oaks, I had a campaign treasurer designation on file and contributions were made to that account. All of these contributions are public records and open to anyone on the Parker County Elections webpage. I have contacted the Texas Ethics Commission and am working with them to file an Amended Campaign Finance Report and Unspent Funds Report.
The Elections Administrator’s website has copies of all of the primary candidates’ financial records, but Povero’s only campaign treasurer appointment is his July 9 document, Elections Administrator Crickett Miller confirmed.
The Weatherford Democrat sent an open records request to the Hudson Oaks town clerk, seeking the appointment of a campaign treasurer from his mayoral race. This request was pending at the time of going to press.
The state election code states that failure to appoint a campaign treasurer can result in a fine of up to three times the amount raised.
Povero had raised more than $35,000 in donations by the time he filed for treasurer.