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Information pertaining to alleged illegal campaign contributions accepted by a pair of candidates vying for seats on the Big Spring City Council this weekend was turned over Friday to local law enforcement on the advice of legal officials with the Texas Press Association.
According to campaign finance reports filed with City Hall, Marcus Fernandez, candidate for District 1 in Saturdayâ€™s city elections, and James Glen Carrigan, who is running for the District 3 seat, both accepted contributions from two corporations, Quad A Inc. and Hydro Dynamics.
Under the Texas Ethics Commission Title 15 Election Code, candidates seeking to hold office are not allowed to accept campaign contributions from corporations. The alleged violations are considered third-degree felonies and could be punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000, according to the Texas Election Code.
Big Spring Herald Publisher Ron Midkiff said the information was turned over to law enforcement on the advice of officials with the Texas Press Association.
â€śAlthough the timing seems as if the Herald is being partisan, this is not the case,â€ť Midkiff said. â€śWe report our findings after determining it is newsworthy and accurate. Initially, we reported these findings earlier in the week to authorities. Due to the timing and the busy week involved, the Herald was told Friday the findings would take until Monday to go through the proper channels and the investigation process would begin at that time.
â€śOur position is to be the outlet for news and information in our community. That is our responsibility, regardless of who it is or what the information is about. It is also common for newspapers to request information through the Open Records Act and report any findings, especially if there is wrongdoing and especially if it is illegal. We will continue to do this in the future.â€ť
According to a campaign finance report filed with the cityâ€™s secretary, Fernandez accepted a donation of $1,000 from Quad A Inc. and a $200 donation from Hydro Dynamics. Carrigan reported he had received $1,000 from Quad A Inc. and $400 from Hydro Dymanics.
Both candidates have maintained they were not aware it was illegal to take the campaign contributions at the times they were accepted, and say they have refunded or are in the process of refunding the contributions.
The Herald first reported on possible illegal campaign contributions in Big Spring in its May 6 edition, outlining similar campaign contributions allegedly accepted by Mayor Tommy Duncan during his 2010 bid for the mayoral office.
According to the campaign report submitted by Duncan, he accepted a $300 political contribution from Hydro Dynamics Inc. and a $500 political contribution from Quad A Inc.
Duncan also maintains he was not aware it was illegal to accept the contributions.
Contact Staff Writer Thomas Jenkins at 263-7331 ext. 232 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org