Campaigns go negative

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Waco – Challengers in two hotly contested races confronted members of the Baylor old guard “posse” with negative personal campaign tactics as the week drew to a close.

Waco Police Sergeant Patrick W. Swanton fished out a sarcastic prank card that has circulated for more than a year in law enforcement circles – the “Eubank Card” – and featured it on his Facebook page. He will face incumbent Sheriff Parnell McNamara in a candidate’s forum on Monday, January 11, 7:00pm, 715 Elm Street at the Brazos River Plaza Building.

The prop alleges it may be used to get out of “five policy violations or one felony the day the Sheriff takes office.”

McNamara is a fifth-generation McLennan County law man, a Baylor graduate who has gained recognition in such glamorous publications as “Texas Monthly” as the leader of a “posse” of sleuths, lawyers, business and financial titans, all alleged members of an informal oligarchy.

Sgt. Chris Eubank is a patrol supervisor who works deep nights following his resignation as a Lieutenant who had charge of training and personnel investigations. At the time, he admitted to then Chief Deputy Matt Cawthon, a retired Texas Ranger, that he had taken quizzes and prepared other materials preparatory to Sheriff Parnell McNamara taking the certification exam given by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement.

Following his resignation as Chief Deputy, Cawthon said he advised Eubank to just resign, which he did immediately. But then McNamara persuaded him to take a new job at a lower pay grade, that of Sergeant, working night shift.

According to an accompanying piece, the Swanton for Sheriff campaign alleges, “This is important because the Sheriff’s office is currently being investigated by the State of Texas’ Law Enforcement Licensing Agency.” Documentation received from TCOLE through a public information act request supports that allegation.

In a well-publicized case, the sheriff did not discipline a supervisor who lied to another law enforcement agency about being involved in a high speed pursuit that injured two young men and placed citizens in danger. The supervisor stated he was not in pursuit even though his car camera was used as evidence in filing criminal charges. The sheriff later admitted during a Waco Police Association meeting that he watched the in-car video and called it a pursuit. His office even went so far as to file criminal charges on the driver. If this were a citizen who lied during a police investigation they could have been charged with a crime.”

Swanton points out that personnel decisions made in the early days of his administration to dismiss some deputies and demote others cost taxpayers $600,000 deductible and $1.4 million from the Texas Association of Counties errors and omissions policy fund in the settlement of a federal suit. He also mentions an exodus of top management of the Sheriff’s Office beginning with the resignation of Cawthon, the Jail Captain, and a top Administrative Captain.

In the Precinct 3 race for County Commissioner, challenger Ben Matus of West revealed that incumbent Will Jones of Waco urged him to drop out of his race and allow him to run unopposed. He offered to pay him back his filing fee of $1,250 if he would withdraw from the race.

Jones is a millionaire, a graduate of Baylor who won a fortune in the Texas Lottery and used his winnings to earn a Business degree from the Baylor Hankamer School of Business in order to best manage his money.

This alleged offense is similar to that which a Travis County Grand Jury indicted former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Abuse of Office. In this case it would be a Class A misdemeanor involving a sum of money more than $750 and less than $2,500.

District Attorney Abel Reyna has the say so in this case, according to the Texas Ethics Commission.

According to the law, the Criminal District Attorney must give the Attorney General’s Office the go-ahead on whether to prosecute the offense.

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