Socorro city rep running for re-election may have jeopardized his campaign

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 11:08pm

When he first bonded out of jail, Jesse Gandara Jr. spoke freely in front of cameras, promising to speak more about his arrest.

Gandara said, "I will have more to say on Thursday," the night he bonded out of jail.

But he didn't show up to that Thursday night council meeting last week. Yesterday, he left council chambers in a hurry without talking to the media.

The only word from Gandara was a letter supposedly written by him, and handed out by Socorro City Spokesperson, Dave Garcia, last Thursday.
"However you wish to look at it, he did address the issue, he did put it out there, it is printed, it was sent from his office, so it's pretty much official," said Garcia.

That's where the new controversy lies. Some say this letter, in which Gandara accuses the Sheriff's Office of abusing their power to destroy his campaign to keep his District 4 seat, may have violated state election law.

In the last line of his letter, Gandara asks the community to vote for him in the upcoming election.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission's Election Code, that is unethical because the letter is printed on city letterhead and means Gandara is using public resources for his own political advertising.

We contacted Spokesman Dave Garcia today, citing the ethics code Gandara appears to have violated, but Garcia changed his story and told us Gandara had no idea his letter was even being made public.

"No, no, no. It's not that he wrote the letter. Those were his comments that he was going to say to you. I asked him for a written version of it and I printed it, and I mistakenly and inadvertently printed it on letterhead. He did not intend it to be printed and handed out," said Garcia.

We contacted Jesse Gandara Jr. about this letter he allegedly wrote and he hasn't yet returned our phone calls.

As for violating the Election Code, the Texas Ethics Commission says if found guilty, a person can face a criminal prosecution -- a fine up to $4,000, 1 year in jail, or both.

The violator could also face a civil penalty, that can cost him or her up to a $5,000 fine.


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