"Stop Garza" Movement Persists in County Attorney Race
Aleshire continues attacks on Mayor Pro Tem’s “ethics”
By Michael King,
3:00PM, Fri. Feb. 14, 2020
In the wake of a new website featuring a virulent attack on Delia Garza’s candidacy for Travis County Attorney, former county judge Bill Aleshire renewed his personal crusade against Garza, charging her with campaign finance violations. Garza called the problem an “unintentional error.”
Of the four candidates running for the Democratic nomination for Travis County Attorney, as a sitting City Council Member Mayor Pro Tem Garza has the highest profile and name ID, and has predictably endured the sharpest attacks by opponents convinced she shouldn’t be elected. Former county judge Aleshire has been Garza's most vocal opponent, although he insists he’s not directly associated with another candidate (he has donated to the campaigns of Assistant County Attorney Laurie Eiserloh and former judge Mike Denton).
In his latest attack on Garza, Aleshire called attention to a $5,263.47 donation to her campaign from “Black Swan Yoga”, the brand name used by “Onnit, LLC,” a limited liability corporation. Aleshire notes that under Texas law it is illegal for corporations to donate to political campaigns, and he filed an extensive formal complaint to the Travis County District Attorney (with flourishes including additional attacks on Garza's qualifications). In Aleshire’s words, “Delia Garza accepted an illegal corporate campaign contribution from the corporation her husband works for and was the Accounting Supervisor for. It is a 3rd-degree felony under Texas law to give or accept a campaign contribution from a corporation.”
Informed of Aleshire’s claim, Garza responded (in part): “As soon as the potential error was discovered, we contacted legal counsel to help us evaluate the situation. After more review of the business structure and relationship, we immediately returned the contribution. We are reviewing our process to identify improvements that can be made to prevent unintentional errors from occurring moving forward and to maintain the confidence of our community and supporters.”
Presumably, Garza’s return of the donation will short-circuit any legal action contemplated by Aleshire’s submittal to the district attorney, but Aleshire called Garza’s return of the money an admission of “criminal conduct.” He reiterates that the donation came from “a company Garza’s husband [Ramiro Martinez, Jr.] works for” – why that matters at all, except in Aleshire’s febrile imagination, is unclear. Political candidates are so reflexively supported by family and friends, it would be a surprise to find one that isn’t.
Garza noted that Aleshire began attacking her on the day she filed for the office, adding, “It’s ridiculous that he has now tried to allege I knowingly committed an offense. It’s also quite unfair for him to try to implicate my husband in this complaint. His duties in accounting were primarily limited to receiving payments from customers.”
Hardly mollified, Aleshire has since proposed a supposed “settlement agreement” with Garza, requiring her to resign from City Council and to abide by city campaign finance limits in what is in fact a Travis County race (meaning fewer restrictions). “If you’ll do that, you’ll be all squared up, and I’ll shut up. Deal?”
For anybody who knows Aleshire, the notion that he would ever “shut up” in campaign season is laughable on its face. He insists Garza is unqualified to be county attorney and “ethically challenged” – and since as a council member she began with stronger name recognition than her opponents, Aleshire’s attacks are an unpaid gift to her opponents. One (Dominic Selvera) has rejected Aleshire’s attacks, but Eiserloh and Denton – who certainly have a campaign interest in what’s called “driving up Garza’s negatives” – have thus far been largely silent.