Yesterday morning, at the beginning of the city council meeting, Claudia Ordaz was sworn into represent District 6. As I tweeted on the weekend, a complaint was filed, challenging Ordaz’ eligibility to hold office, on Monday morning. The complaint was filed by community activist Salvador Gomez with the municipal clerk’s office. I received a copy of the filing via an open records request I had filed on Monday. You can read the complaint here.
Gomez alleges “published documents show” that Claudia Ordaz “did not meet the eligibility window” for the required six months of residency as per the election code. Gomez references the blog post posted by Deep in El Paso as the basis for the residency allegation.
Salvador Gomez adds, in his complaint, that Ordaz did “knowingly accept a campaign contribution from a corporation” in violation of the Texas law prohibition against corporate campaign contributions.
As you might be aware, I wrote a blog on July 18, 2014 letting you know that I believed that Claudia Ordaz had violated the election code by accepting what appeared to be a corporate donation from Casa de Yoga. You can read more about this in “Did Claudia Ordaz Violate Election Law?”
Yesterday I reviewed Ordaz’ campaign finance reports and noticed that on August 4, 2014 she filed an amended report refunding the campaign donation. According to her amended report filed at the city clerk’s office at 10:52 in the morning, Ordaz reports that she “returned donation that [was] inadvertently accepted during the reporting period”.
In the report she shows that on August 4, 2014, the $50 contribution from Casa de Yoga East was, “returned”.
During the call to the public, Sal Gomez stated that he believed that his complaint “was thrown in the trash” by the city and ignored. Oscar Leeser responded that he had discussed the complaint with the city attorney and asked Sylvia Borunda Firth to explain what had transpired.
According to Firth, the law requires a “high burden of proof” before an elected official could be declared ineligible. According to Firth, “uncontroverted” evidence needed to be provided. She added that Gomez’ filing did not meet the required threshold and therefore there was no “legal reason” to keep Ordaz from taking the oath of office.
I was notified that an unnamed attorney was contemplating filing an injunction yesterday however I was not able to confirm this.
Finally, as the city council camera panned the audience attending Ordaz’ swearing in I noticed that along with her boyfriend, Vince Perez, Susie Byrd and Veronica Escobar were also in attendance.
The question that remains unanswered is whether a violation of the corporate contributions law can be cured by a candidate if they return the money after having accepted it. I’ll follow up with a later blog on this issue once I’ve had an opportunity to research the matter further.