Mayoral candidates in heated debate over ethics complaint

News

El Paso mayoral candidates David Saucedo and Dee Margo are taking shots at each other over an ethics complaint filed by Margo’s campaign treasurer and local attorney Oscar Javier Ornelas.

The complaint accuses Saucedo of breaking the state’s campaign finance laws when he filed a handwritten campaign finance report instead of an electronic version.

It also accuses him of terminating his campaign and raising money without a treasurer.

Saucedo told NewsChannel 9 there were problems in some of his paperwork that needed to be fix but called the complaint a “frivolous and politically motivated attack.”

Margo disagreed and told NewsChannel 9, “David is entitled to his own opinion. He’s not entitled to his own facts and that stipulates this is a serious offense.”

Margo said the issues raise serious questions and show a “pattern of mismanagement.”

He said, “It’s the same way he handled the Boys and Girls Club and was in denial over their financial demise.”

Despite the complaint, Saucedo said its filing has had a positive impact on his campaign.

“If anything, it’s brought positive attention to us,” Saucedo said Monday afternoon. “It’s exposed Dee Margo for who he is – a typical politician.”

When asked the status of the complaint, a spokesperson for the ethics commission told NewsChannel 9, “Due to state confidentiality requirements, the Texas Ethics Commission cannot confirm or deny whether any particular sworn complaint has been filed.”

However, according to documents filed with the City of El Paso, Saucedo’s first campaign finance report filed on Jan. 17 shows that he raised more than $47,000 between September and December 2016.

That amount is above the $20,000 threshold which requires an electronic filing.

In addition to submitting the wrong type of financial report, Saucedo signed a “final report” on April 7 that terminates his treasurer.

The document also says he intends to stop fundraising which he hasn’t.

Margo said, “You don’t need to be an attorney to understand what you’re signing.”

According to a spokesperson with the ethics commission, a candidate has 14 business days after learning of a mistake to turn in a corrected or amended report and an affidavit stating that the error or omission in the original report was made in good faith.

When asked, in general, if terminating a treasurer could be undone, the spokesperson with the ethics commission said that would depend upon all of the circumstances.

The spokesperson also said it would take about six months to know the results of any kind of investigation.

He said, “Without addressing any particular complaint, or confirming or denying whether any complaint has been filed, the amount of time necessary to resolve a complaint can vary depending on various factors, including the complexity of the complaint, the extent of investigations, necessary hearings, etc. Most complaints are resolved within 180 days.”

Saucedo also accused Margo of trying to waste state resources for personal gain.

He said, “The Texas Ethics Commission will be forced to waste time, money and resources in reviewing the 164-page complaint.” 

However, Margo stood by his treasurer’s decision to file the complaint and told NewsChannel 9, “Every treasurer for every candidate should be doing what my treasurer did. They review everyone’s campaign finances to determine if there’s any issues or errors to be dealt with.”

Early voting for the May 6 election is now underway.

 

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