The Fight to Stop the Recall Election Continues
POSTED: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 - 5:57pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 3:37pm
EL PASO - Mayor John Cook headed back to court today, this time to the 8th Court of Appeals.
He is fighting to stop the recall election. He says Pastor Tom Brown and his supporters violated the Texas electoral code that prohibits non profit corporations from making campaign contributions.
"I think we did a good job of expressing this was quite obviously a political campaign orchestrated by the corporation known as word of life church Tom brown ministries and Tom Brown," Cook said.
But Tom Brown's attorney, Joel Oster, says the way Cook is trying to apply the law is a violation of freedom of speech.
"You cannot prohibit political speech based on the corporate identity of the speaker. Just like newspapers have a fundamental first amendment right to be involved and to speak out so does a church," Oster said.
Oster argues Brown and the Word of Life Church have the right to be involved in a recall effort even if the church is a corporation because they are simply exercising their right to speak.
"The mayor is attacking pure speech and the mayor is attacking corporate speech, citizens' speech, yours and my speech. The mayor is saying you don't have a right to petition your government for the redress of grievances if there might be an argument that there's a corporate entity at the back of the room," Oster said.
But, Cook's attorneys argue the group is confusing individuals' rights to circulate petitions with corporations rights and say this has nothing to do with free speech.
"The El Pasoans for traditional family values which was only set up to pass an ordinance and after the ordinance was passed they spent a other 4 thousand dollars, that's not incidental to free speech," Cook said.
A date for the recall election date hasn't been decided.
El Paso City Leaders say that's because the Texas primary election dates still haven't been set and if the primary elections take place in April, the city wont be able to use the county's election equipment until May.
City leaders are torn over whether to have the election in April, which could cost taxpayers $600,000 or whether to have it in May, which would then be less than cost $200,000.