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District Attorney Responds to Harsh Criticism from Pastor Tom Brown's Lawyers

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POSTED: Monday, August 22, 2011 - 4:49pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 10:25am

EL PASO - The District Attorney is responding to some harsh criticism from the lawyers representing Pastor Tom Brown.

Brown is the pastor and founder of the Word of Life Church, based in El Paso.

Theresa Caballero and Steward Leeds held a news conference Saturday and claimed that Jaime Esparza has launched a "politically motivated" investigation into Brown and his recall effort.

Brown is leading an effort to recall Mayor John Cook and city representatives Susie Byrd and Steve Ortega. It all stems from their decision to restore health benefits to gay and domestic partners of city employees, after voters took the benefits away.

"It is not about the rights of gay couples,” Caballero said about the recall. “It is about voters speaking and city council undoing the voter's voice."

Brown's lawyers now claim Esparza has launched a politically motivated investigation into their client and the recall effort.

"District Attorney Jaime Esparza is starting another one of his, in a long line, of political prosecutions," said Leeds.

Leeds also claimed Esparza is a political ally of Cook, Byrd and Ortega.

"He needs them and they need him to save their jobs from this recall. He's stepping right up to the plate for them."

During Saturday's news conference, Caballero even went as far as to say this about Esparza: "We're going to take a legal and political truncheon to the District Attorney's head and break his knees with it. This is an outrage," she said.

But Esparza told NewsChannel 9 Monday that his investigation is not driven by politics or political affiliations, but rather a letter he received.

"The investigation regarding Pastor Brown is really related to a referral from the Texas Attorney General's office," said Esparza.

He said it's a referral regarding a possible election violation that Brown may have committed.

Esparza showed us a section of the Texas election code which states:

A corporation or labor organization may not make a political contribution or political expenditure in connection with a recall election, including the circulation and submission of a petition to call an election.

Esparza said a church can be considered a corporation.

"A corporation can be any entity. It could be a church it or it could be a business," said Esparza.

A violation of the Texas election code is a third degree felony.

Caballero and Leeds insist that their client has not broken any laws.

Meantime, Brown and his supporters continue to gather signatures on the recall petition.

But there is also plenty of opposition. On Sunday, hundreds of people held a rally against the recall effort at Memorial Park.

Comments News Comments

Mayor Crook illegally authorized coverage for those city employees - regardless of results of election. For details: read the Judge's ruling on this matter. JAIME, WHY DON'T YOU PROSECUTE THE MAYOR AND HIS TWO CRONIES FOR USING CITY FUNDS (PAID BY TAX PAYERS) ILLEGALLY??? DON'T HIDE BY NOT RESPONDING. If you are fair minded,you will take action against this mayor and his two cronies !!!

In reference to the El Paso County DA Mr. Jaime Esparza don't hold your breath. He is a Democratic Party hack not bi-partisan and will go out of his way to defend other Demos like Mayor Cook, Byrd and Ortega if he can get away with it.

Denying medical and other benefits to same sex/gay couples does not violate the "Equal Protection Clause" of the U.S. Constitution and has nothing to do with discrimination. So this is a poor excuse.

what do you think the word discrimination means?

it has nothing to do with discrimination? i don't think you understand the definition of the word

being gay is not the norm (normal). if i was to do a random sample of 100 people how many of them would be gay???? im not saying its wrong to be gay just abnormal. absolutly no government ie, local, state or federal should have any bearing on people having health coverage. government does not start at the top but from the people.........thomas jefferson didnt intend for it to be that way. read his quotes online and you will find what his intentions were. the majority of el pasoans gay????

Here we go again with these church people! Boy, do I some dirty dirt to tell about this church...

The last time I checked the Texas Constitution bans same sex marriages and other alternative arrangements. This was Proposition 2 back in November 2005 where 76% of the voters approved the ban. Only one county Travis went against it. That made Texas the 19th state to ban gay marriages.

And yet the Mayor and City Council of El Paso can disregard the Texas Constitution and the will of the people statewide and in El Paso County? This is sad. The City Charter needs to be trashed.

As per the "Judge's Detailed Ruling", certain people were not entitled to Medical coverage and that is why he did not side with them. As a matter of fact, those same city employees and their dependents HAD NOT been entitled to the benefits - ever! Yet, Crook illegally authorized coverage for those city employees - regardless of results of election. JAIME, WHY DON'T YOU PROSECUTE THE MAYOR AND HIS TWO CRONIES FOR USING CITY FUNDS (PAID BY TAX PAYERS) ILLEGALLY??? DON'T HIDE BY NOT RESPONDING.

A lot of the issues are valid points but people are failing to see that our votes were basically annulled. Our system of democracy was voided by these people who assume they have the power to negate our votes. That's what I am angry about. I vote regularly and I know the issues I support will not always win but I don't like the fact that my vote was simply discarded. But next election when these fools run again, I hope my vote against them will stand. I vote my vote counts beat that!

Re: Esparza's Comments: A church can only be considered a corporation if it is in fact incorporated under the laws of a state. In most cases as a non-profit corporation. However, there is no requirement in Texas for a church or ministry to be incorporated. It would be considered an unincorporated non-profit association. Therefore, the Texas Elections Code 253.094(b)is not applicable to Pastor Brown or his church since they are not incorporated. Bottom line is no jurisdiction to prosecute.

Mayor Crook and his cronies need to go. The people of El Paso spoke loud and clear when they voted. Who is Mayor Crook to say the people did not understand what they were voting for? He was voted in and he will be voted out. This is not a gay issue. This is a case against the leaders that were entrusted to uphold the will of the people, not interpret what they voted for by changing the rules without authority. This act by crook must not stand or the people of El Paso will be the ones to suffer.

Just like many other Laws passed by this Anarhist - No selling Puppies no this
without consent of us Long Life Residents of El Paso.

I am really Gald this re-call came up. It is really a fact this Mayor and his hoodlum friends have to Go. I will find out where I can go sign the Petition.
I hope many other El Pasoans go too.

Don't these people have anything better to do.

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