Rio Grande Valley mayor runs afoul of Texas Ethics Commission

You can’t go any farther south in Texas than Cameron County in the Rio Grande Valley. Back in December of last year, San Benito – one of the fast-growing county’s 18 cities and towns – held a run-off mayoral election. Though Ricardo “Rick” Guerra won the tight race, he was recently cited by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) for violating Texas Election Code campaign advertising rules.

According to a news source, Guerra did not correctly include a required political advertising disclosure as part of a banner run in a newspaper last year. The TEC found that the banner ad in the San Benito News didn’t correctly spell out his full name, instead including “Pol. Ad. Paid for by the Candidate.”

On its website, the TEC says that political advertising disclosure statements “must contain the full name of the person who paid for the advertising” or the political action committee that paid for it or the name of the candidate who authorized the ad.

The TEC notes that disclosure statements are not required to be on the following:

  • Political fundraising event tickets or invitations
  • Campaign buttons, hats, t-shirts, balloons, etc.
  • Circulars and flyers (as long as they cost less in the aggregate than $500)
  • Envelopes used to mail political advertising (as long as the materials inside contain the disclosure statement)
  • Posts on websites, as long as the person posting (or reposting) “is not an officeholder, candidate, or political committee and did not make an expenditure exceeding $100 in a reporting period for political advertising beyond the basic cost of hardware messaging software and bandwidth”
  • A social media profile of an officeholder or candidate as long as the profile “clearly and conspicuously displays the full name of the candidate or officeholder”
  • Postings or repostings on a site if the ad includes a link to a publicly available social media profile that also “clearly and conspicuously” displays their full name

It’s not difficult to see how an officeholder candidate or private citizen candidate might not have committed all that to memory in the midst of a fast-paced campaign.

According to the TEC, Guerra’s multiple infractions were not intended to be deceptive. He was fined $100, an amount that soars to $2,500 if not paid within 30 days.