Yard signs apparent violation, say activists
The Ellis County Press
WILMER - Activists in the city are in an uproar.
Billy Wickliffe, candidate for city council May 9, is what some have alleged, in violation with the Texas Ethics Committee.
According to the ethics committee, the code reads : § 255.006. MISLEADING USE OF OFFICE TITLE.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly enters into a contract or other agreement to print, publish, or broadcast political advertising with the intent to represent to an ordinary and prudent person that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold at the time the agreement is made.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly
represents in a campaign communication that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold at the time the representation is made.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person represents that a candidate holds a public office that the candidate does not hold if:(1) the candidate does not hold the office that the candidate seeks; and(2) the political advertising or campaign communication states the public office sought but does not include the word "for" in a type size that is at least one-half the type size used for the name of the office to clarify that the candidate does not hold that office.
(d) A person other than an officeholder commits an offense if the person knowingly uses a representation of the state seal in political advertising.(e) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
Wickliffe, who is being alleged of misrepresentation by having "re-elect" on his signs when he is not currently in office said he "isn’t doing anything wrong."
While admitting he didn’t call and check to see if they were in violation but,"Tiny [ Lange, councilwoman turned mayoral candidate] did "he alleged they [ Lange, Dean Rolison and Eugene Lowe-all up for election] are not being treated fairly.
"We haven’t been out complaining and causing trouble like they [opposing candidates Jeff Steele, Marlena Dyess,Vicky Vandygriff and Stan Bell] have been, we are just doing our thing," said Wyckliffe.
Councilwoman Lange did call the Secretary of State.
"I called and asked about my signs since they were without the right-of-way notice and then I asked about Billy’s," said Lange.
"They are fine. As long as "for" council is on them, they are fine."
According to a recent case investigated by the Texas Ethics Commission last summer, a candidate was using the word "re-elect" and the word "for" before the office was sought.
Although the signs included the word "for" before the office was sought in some instances, they also use the word "re-elect" in such a way as to represent that the respondent held the office of state representative of District 146 at a time when he did not hold that office.
He was fined a $500 penalty for violating.
Another, Gilbert Flores of Lubbock, encountered a similar problem back in January when he used signs from a previous election that read "Re-Elect Gilbert Flores" for a position in which he no longer was an incumbent.
He was fined $200 for his code violation.
Natalia Ashley, with the Texas Ethics Committee legal counsel, cited the code mentioned above and emphasized part (b) very clearly.
"It all ends up on what the commission ultimately decides, but it clearly states that a person cannot represent themselves as an incumbent if they are not currently holding that office as of the time of the election," said Ashley.