dont_bother_txThere is a saying in Spanish that epitomizes the reason why politicians cannot be held accountable. Lavándose las manos, basically means washing my hands of things that I don’t want to deal with. That is the case with the State of Texas. The Texas legislature has deemed it illegal to accept corporate campaign contributions yet it does not want to enforce the law. It is one set of politicians pontificating about electoral reform while another set basically washes their hands of having to enforce the laws on the books.

As I have written numerous times, I am not a lawyer and yet I’m sometimes forced to do the best that I can to interpret the law in order to understand what is and is not possible. Therefore, as best as I can understand it, under Texas law it is illegal to accept corporate contributions for political campaigns.

Because of this understanding, I filed a complaint against Steve Ortega for accepting a corporate contribution on June 19, 2014. As I have written previously my complaint against Steve Ortega alleges that Ortega accepted a corporate campaign contribution from Bain Enterprises in violation of the Texas Election Code. As you might remember, I also wrote on that blog post that I felt compelled to file the complaint because I criticize others for not doing the right thing. The thing about corruption, in part, is that it is enabled by those who know of wrongdoing yet do nothing to shine a light upon it.

As you also might remember from my blog post I filed the complaint with the Texas Secretary of State because the Texas Ethics Commission does not accept election complaints from residents of other states or who do not own property that pays property taxes in the jurisdiction where the allegation occurred. In other words, the Texas Ethics Commission doesn’t care whether I feel a violation of the election code has occurred or not because I’m outside of the jurisdiction.

The Texas Secretary of State, on the other hand doesn’t have a prohibition of bringing allegations to their attention based on where the person making the allegation resides. Because of that, On June 19, 2014 I filed a complaint with them against Steve Ortega.

In a letter dated June 24, 2014, I was informed by the Secretary of State that they had received my complaint. They wrote that my “election complaint will be answered” in the “next 30 to 60 days”.

Yesterday, I received another letter. This one was dated July 22, 2014. In it, the Secretary of State informed me “due to the nature of the complaint, we refer you to the Texas Ethics Commission to address any concerns or questions you may have about the conduct described” in my complaint. The “nature of the complaint”, according to their letter was that I had alleged, “a candidate accepted contributions from a corporation in violation of Texas law”.

As you already know, the Texas Ethics Commission, according to their complaint form, does not recognize me as a legitimate party from which to accept allegations of election code violations. Consider that for a moment. Here I am making what I consider a legitimate complaint about violations of the election code and it seems that the State of Texas, through their two representative agencies do not seem to care about doing their jobs.

The Texas Ethics Commission doesn’t want to hear from people outside of the jurisdiction even though the facts about the allegation are irrelevant to whether I live in  the jurisdiction or not. Why is this important?

It is important because I have documented how economic pressure is brought upon those who question the actions of certain individuals in the community. Individuals trying to document wrongdoing are ostracized and their jobs or businesses are threatened. Therefore, it is difficult for those living in the community to take on the status quo because they have families and their wellbeing to worry about.

As I understand it, there are three entities that would investigate an allegation like the one I levied. They are the Texas Secretary of State, the Texas Ethics Commission and the local district attorney’s office. As you know, I do not believe that District Attorney Jaime Esparza would investigate my allegation because it is my opinion that Esparza uses selective prosecutions extensively. He picks and chooses whom to prosecute. Therefore, I will not waste my time with that office.

The Texas Ethics Commission states that I do not have standing. Now, the Texas Secretary of State has informed me that I should bring my concerns to the Texas Ethics Commission, although it has no interest in the information that I have.

In other words, no one wants to investigate because it is not about the truth but rather how to politically manipulate the system for the benefit of a few.

Now that I have gone through this fruitless exercise, I have some advice for you. If you know of any election wrongdoing don’t bother documenting it or filling out the complaint forms because the truth is that the law is only a tool for prosecuting a select few that don’t toe the line of those in power.

Don’t bother because the political shenanigans will continue regardless of how well it is documented and exposed. In a previous blog post, I also alleged that Claudia Ordaz also accepted a corporate donation during the last election. From my experience, she doesn’t need to worry because the State of Texas doesn’t seem to care.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

2 replies on “Lavandose Las Manos: Why You Can’t Hold Politicians Accountable”

  1. It is disheartening that in the last three elections since last fall my wife and I had to vote in precincts OTHER than where we’re living DESPITE having submitted change of addresses online AND at the polling stations!

Comments are closed.