|San Jacinto News Times - Local News
Copyright 2012 - Polk County Publishing Company
Republican chair accuses commissioner of using county facility for campaigning
By MARTHA CHARREY
San Jacinto News-Times editor
COLDSPRING – An email laced with bribery, an accusation against a San Jacinto County Commissioner of using a county facility to distribute campaign signs and an emery board heated up local politics here Monday. San Jacinto County Republican Party Chairman Sean Hanson sent an email Monday morning at 11:56 a.m. to San Jacinto County Democratic Party Chairman Deborah Turner and San Jacinto County Precinct 1 Commissioner Laddie McAnally accusing McAnally of distributing campaign signs at the Precinct 1 Sanitation Facility in Coldspring. According to Hansen, three voters came to him with allegations and photographs proving that McAnally was using the county facility for campaign-ing Monday morning. One of the photographs showed about 5 campaign signs at the Pct. 1 garbage compactor site sitting upside down against a post. Another photograph was taken by a fourth voter of an emery board with McAnally campaign literature on it said to have been obtained at the compactor site from an employee, according to Hanson. Hanson said the four voters immediately reported the issues and photographs to him. Hanson said those reporting the issues didn’t know the names of the county employees involved in the alleged misconduct. When asked if the San Jacinto News-Times could have the names of the four who reported the alleged incidents, Hanson said, “I’m not going to give their names out at this time. If they want to go forward with this then I will give their names.” Hanson said as soon as the information and photographs were presented to him that he contacted the Texas Ethics Commission who informed him that “This is a severe violation subject to their jurisdiction under 255.003. Additionally the attorney suggested we pursue Texas 39.02 Abuse of Official Capacity.” Giving his position on the issue, Hanson said, “I don’t want to file on anybody because I understand it is a severe violation. I was also informed to get in touch with our criminal district attorney.” He later said that he has not contacted the criminal DA. Hanson added, “It is up to the four individuals involved whether or not they want to pursue the issue and that would probably be up to McAnally and whether or not he is going to concede.” Conceding was first mentioned in the email Hanson sent Monday morning to McAnally and Democratic Chairman Turner, when Hanson stated, “Candidate for Commissioner Precinct 1 Ray McCoppin has said that Commissioner McAnally can resolve this issue by conceding the race to prevent his filing on this violation.” During an interview Monday evening with Ray McCoppin, he confirmed that he did make that statement and reiterated that indeed there would be no complaints filed if McAnally conceded the race. McCoppin admitted that the campaign signs and emery board could have been at the compactor site by mistake. “I haven’t talked to McAnally about the incidents. I saw him this afternoon but didn’t talk to him,” McCoppin said. “I was in the field working during the morning and didn’t arrive at the office until this afternoon (Monday),” McAnally said. “I didn’t even know there were any campaign signs on the premises and I don’t have any emery boards at the office. We gave out emery boards during the San Jacinto County Fair and Rodeo, but my employees know not to campaign on county property” he added. Checking into the allegations made in Hanson’s email, McAnally said his employees at the compactor site informed him that there were five of his campaign signs brought into the compactor site Monday morning. Three were from individuals who said the wind had blown them down and brought them to the compactor site and two campaign signs were believed to have been brought in by TxDOT employees, according to the county employees. “I wasn’t even there. I’m just going by what my sanitation workers said and they don’t have the names of those who brought the signs in. The signs are turned upside down leaning on a post. That’s not campaigning,” McAnally said. “I’ve not done any negative advertising and now they are going to start throwing mud. I am going to continue to run a clean campaign regardless of what they try to do,” McAnally said. Concerning Hanson and McCoppin’s statements about him (McAnally) conceding the race to prevent McCoppin from filing on the alleged violations, McAnally said, “I’m going to turn the email over to my personal attorney to look over for possible bribery charges. I’ve been told this could be a very good case of bribery and a copy of the email has been sent to the San Jacinto County Criminal District Attorney. “According to the law, a person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, or agrees to confer on another, or solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept from another any benefit as consideration for the recipient’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of discretion as a public servant, party official or voter. An offense under Section 36.02 Bribery of the State Penal Code is a felony of the second degree,” McAnally said.