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Complaint filed over campaign finances

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, March 3, 2018
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A complaint was filed with the Texas Ethics Commission on Precinct 4 justice of the peace Willie Garrett, regarding his campaign finance reports.

David Allen of Bridgeport filed the complaint in mid-February, saying Garrett failed to report campaign expenditures in his first two reports. The commission contacted Allen March 1 and said his complaint was non-compliant.

“They said I didn’t allege violations in the right place [on the form],” Allen said. He was also told he didn’t list specific statutes violated by Garrett.

Allen notified the Messenger March 2 that he looked up the appropriate statutes and filed another complaint earlier that day.

“(Garrett’s) reports are not accurate,” Allen said. “They don’t represent what’s being spent. You don’t do that type of advertising for the amount of money he’s claiming.

“I’ve run for public office a couple of times, and it takes money.”

On the report turned in Jan. 16, Garrett reported $375 in expenditures, which was his filing fee with the Republican Party. On the Feb. 5 report, he documented $8 in expenditures, which was a banking fee.

Allen noted Garrett already had two billboards in place and signs out, yet those expenses weren’t documented on either report. He had also placed ads in the Messenger, which were not listed as expenses.

Garrett told the Messenger Thursday he didn’t list those expenses in the first two reports because he hadn’t yet paid those bills. He listed $8,848.86 in expenditures on the report filed Feb. 26.

The expenses, as listed on Garrett’s latest report, include the following:

  • Feb. 13: $720 to Wise County Messenger, advertising (paid by credit card)
  • Feb. 14: $120 to Wise County Messenger, advertising (paid by credit card)
  • Feb. 19: $360.60 Wise County Messenger, advertising (paid by credit card)
  • Feb. 26: $1,250 to American Express, advertising (paid with political contributions)
  • Feb. 26: $543 to Harvest Marketing, advertising billboard (paid with political contributions)
  • Feb. 26: $5,855.26 to American Express, advertising (paid with personal funds)

According to Messenger records, he also spent on newspaper advertising: $360.60 on Feb. 26, $900 on Jan. 3, and $450 on Dec. 15, 2017, which are documented in the finance report.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission website, “a sworn complaint sets in motion a process that may include a preliminary review as well as informal or formal hearings.”

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