District 5 candidates receive money from congressional campaign, wife of trustee
Voting will be 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 11, 2012 14:05
Ramiro Nava, former Edgewood Independent School District trustee and principal of Neil Armstrong Elementary School, reported $4,892 contributions and no expenditures in the reporting period from April 12 to May 4 in the race for District 5 of the Alamo College board of trustees.
To date, incumbent Roberto Zárate, former principal at Mary Hull Elementary, has raised a total of $8,000, with $2,300 in contributions and expenditures of $3,414.72 during this period.
The pair face off in the election Saturday. Early voting ended Tuesday.
In a phone interview Tuesday, George Garnica, treasurer for Nava’s campaign, said the campaign did not report the cost of a meet and greet May 1 at the Hilton Hill Country Hotel because the cost was picked up by a third party.
Garnica said Joshua Cernas and Sam Mullen of Mullen Pension and Benefits Group paid the $600.06 in expenses.
“We have nothing to hide regarding where our money’s coming from and where it’s going,” Garnica said.
Donations to Nava included a $1,000 contribution from Castro for Congress May 5.
State Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, is running for the seat vacated by U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzalez in District 20. Gonzalez is not seeking re-election.
In a phone interview Monday, Jacquelyn Callanen, Bexar County elections administrator, said campaigns commonly contribute to other campaigns.
“It’s done all the time,” Callanen said.
According to the Federal Election Commission Campaign Guide for congressional candidates and committees published in August 2011, federal candidates committees’ contributions to state or local candidate committees are subject to state law.
According to its website, the Texas Ethics Commission does not limit contributions from federal campaigns to state or local campaigns.
Federal law does not specify that candidates must notify donors that their donations may be allocated to other political campaigns.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Ben Thomas, field director for Castro For Congress, said the campaign discloses expenditures to the public but does not tell donors that donations may be allocated to other campaigns when they donate.
“I think people understand that that’s how campaigns work,” Thomas said.
Federal candidates must file financial disclosures for April 1-June 30 on July 15.
Dr. Paul Wilson, social sciences and humanities chair, said campaigns should make it clear to contributors how their donations are being allocated.
“If it’s not transparent, it should be,” he said.
Other donations to Nava include an in-kind contribution of $1,716.41 from Gilberto Ocañas, senior adviser at Ocañas Group, a consulting firm, for campaign signs.
According to their website, Ocañas Group provides “access to an international and national network of government leaders and executive decision makers as well as political and business intelligence, industry analysis and marketing and communications services.”
Ocañas is married to Ana “Cha” Guzman, president of Palo Alto College, who is listed as a senior adviser on the group’s website.
Guzman is out of town until Thursday and could not be reached for comment.
Nava’s campaign also received $346 from this college’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors, which has endorsed the challenger.
During the reporting period April 12 to May 4, Zárate reported that his campaign has received $2,300 in campaign contributions, bringing total campaign contributions to $8,000.
Donations included $150 from Pam Sprague, wife of District 6 trustee Gene Sprague.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Sprague accused The Ranger of ignoring Zárate’s campaign and favoring Nava.
He noted Nava’s visit to this campus and coverage of a meet and greet for him but no parallel coverage of Zárate’s campaign events.
“You guys are after Zárate big time,” Sprague said. “It’s clear to a lot of people.”
Since April 13, Roberto Zárate and Patton Zárate, campaign treasurer for Zárate’s campaign, have not returned multiple phone calls from Ranger reporters nor notified The Ranger of any campaign activities.
Zárate’s financial disclosure form reported that his campaign spent $3,414.72 on items such as campaign events, signs and gas for travel within District 5.
During the last reporting period, Zárate’s campaign received $3,000 from B.J. “Red” McCombs, former owner of the San Antonio Spurs and founder of the Red McCombs Automotive Group; $2,500 from real estate developer Charles Martin Wender; and $200 from District 9 trustee James Rindfuss.
District 5 extends from downtown along U.S. Highway 90 and state Highway 151 to Loop 1604.
To view the boundaries of each representative district, visit www.alamo.edu/district/board/ and click on “Which board member represents me?”
Voting is conducted 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.
To find your voting precinct, visit elections.bexar.org/ and click on “Precinct Finder.”