Killeen City Council District 2 candidate Larry Smith said Monday he filed a formal complaint with the state alleging his opponent, Debbie Nash-King, violated ethics laws governing political contributions.
According to Smith’s complaint filed with the Texas Ethics Commission and sent to the Herald by his campaign treasurer Melissa Brown, Nash-King accepted monetary and in-kind contributions from a local union, accepted a contribution from a person not registered as an agent of her campaign and did not follow proper procedure in returning a contribution from former Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin.
“I did nothing wrong,” Nash-King said in an email Monday evening. “I have no problem with TEC looking into (my campaign).”
The commission does not comment on the status of ethics investigations, a spokesman said.
In Nash-King’s campaign finance disclosure forms submitted to the city April 6, her campaign reported $1,675 in total political contributions including a $1,000 donation from the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association and $500 from Corbin.
According to Smith, the firefighters’ organization, a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is listed as a union on its umbrella group’s website and hasn’t registered as a general-purpose political committee with the state.
Smith also said the organization provided in-kind contributions of T-shirts to Nash-King’s campaign, which were unlisted in her disclosure forms.
The association’s website lists the Killeen organization as an “affiliate” of the national union, which calls itself “one of the most active lobbying groups in Washington, D.C.”
Smith said packets given to council candidates by the city explicitly forbid contributions from union groups.
Killeen Director of Public Information Hilary Shine said Monday the city does not have its own ethics code, but follows the Texas Election Code.
The Killeen firefighters’ organization has endorsed Nash-King, District 3 incumbent Jim Kilpatrick, District 4 incumbent Brockley Moore and District 1 candidate Kenny Wells, according to posts on its public Facebook page.
Nash-King said April 6 she returned a contribution given to her campaign from Corbin after a March 19 report in the Herald tied Corbin’s past campaign contributions to local developer Bruce Whitis and two sitting councilmen — Kilpatrick and Juan Rivera — who fought to kill a $394,000 management audit of the city’s finances that was approved March 14.
“I don’t know Mr. Corbin personally, but any money that was given to me was based on his professional relationship with my late husband,” Nash-King said.
Nash-King said the contribution was given to her husband, retired Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King, before he died March 12, and then given to her campaign treasurer. Nash-King said her treasurer gave the money back to avoid public backlash from accepting the contribution.
Smith alleged that returned contributions must be listed as political expenditures on contribution disclosure forms. Nash-King’s form did not list the returned contribution under political expenditures.