For registered voters over the age of 65 in Killeen, a familiar name may have been attached to a flyer with a City Council mail-in ballot application.
Prosperity Central Texas, the general-purpose political committee treasured by former Killeen Mayor Dan Corbin and funded by local developer Bruce Whitis as of 2016, mailed ballot applications to voters in at least two council districts prior to Saturday’s city election — in one case promoting a single candidate and his endorsement from local public safety employee associations.
The city of Killeen reported 410 ballot applications sent out for the Saturday election with around 245 applications returned.
In 2016, the city had 308 returned ballot applications for the council at-large elections, according to Killeen Director of Public Information Hilary Shine.
In 2015, however, the city only had two ballot applications returned for the council by-district elections.
“Voter turnout of all kinds tends to be significantly lower in district election years,” Shine said, “(But it) appears a group was distributing ballots by mail this year and last, but not 2015.”
Shine did not have further information.
A copy of the PAC flyer sent to a District 3 voter supports Councilman Jim Kilpatrick, who was re-elected to his seat Saturday, and touts his endorsements from the Killeen Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, the Killeen Police Employee Association and the Fraternal Order of Police West Bell County, Local #32.
Copies of the flyers for districts 1, 2 and 4 were not available.
“Crime and safety are serious problems that require thoughtful leadership,” the flyer reads. “Our peace officers, first responders and firefighters need a city council that supports their work to save lives and reduce crime.”
Alongside a headshot of Kilpatrick reads the slogan, “Jim Kilpatrick — The right choice for Killeen City Council, District 3.”
Kilpatrick could not be reached for comment Monday.
According to Marc Clifford, president of the firefighters’ group, the PAC did not notify the association of its intent to mail the flyer.
Clifford said the four candidates the group endorsed — Kenny Wells, Debbie Nash-King, Kilpatrick and Brockley Moore — were given permission to use the association’s name and logo in advertising materials.
“I would assume that any political action done on (the candidates’) behalf would be with their approval,” Clifford said in an email Monday.
However, the flyer for District 3 says the advertisement had no approval from any council candidate or candidate committee.
Despite this, the flyers appear to use the name and logo of the firefighters’ group without its permission.
The flyer lists the Corbin & Associates law firm building in the 300 block of South Second Street as the return address.
As of 2016, Corbin was the treasurer for the PAC, which contributed to the campaigns of Councilman Juan Rivera, former Killeen Mayor Scott Cosper, and council at-large candidates Kim Hornsby and Tad Dorroh in 2016, according to Texas Ethics Commission documents.
Kilpatrick and Rivera voted to kill a $394,000 management audit of the city’s finances that was approved March 14 by a 5-2 vote from the council.
On May 1, preliminary results from the audit showed past mismanagement of city funds by officials, including the commingling and misuse of bond funds and the establishment of escrow accounts for the transfer of money between funds.
The accounting firm conducting the audit, Houston-based McConnell & Jones, has yet to identify individuals and occurrence dates for the early results.
Prosperity Central Texas did not contribute to any council races for Saturday’s election, but Corbin individually contributed to the campaigns of Kilpatrick, District 4 candidate Ralph Cossey Jr., and District 2 candidate Nash-King, who said April 6 she returned the $500 donation after a March 19 report in the Herald tied Corbin’s past campaign contributions to Whitis and the audit vote.
“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 (Command Sgt. Maj. Elijah King),” Nash-King said.