Austin (KXAN) – Councilman Mackenzie Kelly and Linda Guerrero – the winning City Council District 9 candidate – filed a criminal complaint against outgoing Austin Mayor Steve Adler yesterday, two days before his final day in office.
Kelly and Guerro said that when Adler endorsed a city council candidate on ATXN, the government access channel for the city of Austin, he criminally violated the Texas Electoral Code.
On December 1, at a press conference in front of City Hall, Adler, who lives in district 9, announced his support for Zo Qadri, a candidate running against Guerrero for a seat on the council of district 9. Kadri won the second round of elections on December 14.
“I’m voting for Zo because I think he’s smart, knowledgeable and focused on the issues that I think are most important right now,” Adler said at the time on ATXN.
Kelly and Guerrero stated in their complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission that by using ATXN to support a candidate, he violated the Texas Electoral Code, which is a class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year in prison.
“The approval by the mayor is the exercise of free speech, he had every right in the world to do so,” said Bill Aleshir, an attorney representing Kelly and Guerro. “(But) he did it with (ATXN)… It’s still posted on the city’s website,” he continued. “This is an open election campaign. This is a frank political advertisement,” Aleshir said.
“I don’t want to see Steve Adler in jail. I just don’t want this to become a precedent where other people look at what he’s done and think they can get away with it,” he continued. “An important principle in the law is that we do not have politicized public funds.”
In addition, Aleshir and his team said that Adler violated a supplementary code by endorsing a candidate within 100 feet of a polling place. Aleshir filed this additional complaint with Delia Garza, the Travis County Attorney.
“You can tell from the video, which looks pretty clear, that he is within 100 feet of the city hall front door, which was used as a polling station,” Aleshir said.
KXAN is awaiting a response from the Mayor of Adler and will update this story as soon as we receive a response.