By Justin Cox
Killeen Daily Herald
TEMPLE – Republican District 55 Texas House candidate Ralph Sheffield on Wednesday rebutted accusations made by rival Martha Tyroch during a recent TV commercial.
Sheffield and Tyroch will battle in a runoff election April 8.
Sheffield spoke at a news conference amid a row of television cameras at his Temple-based campaign headquarters, addressing questions that have surfaced regarding his history of paying taxes.
"As a small businessman in Central Texas for three decades, I've definitely had my struggles up and down," Sheffield said. "With business, times have been good, times have been bad ? We have a campaign that's turning negative. Personal attacks on me that my opponent is alleging, 'I have not paid my taxes,' as she is alleging in her advertisement – I do not appreciate that kind of campaigning."
In Tyroch's television commercial, the longtime Temple city councilwoman said Sheffield failed to pay his taxes. The statements come on the heels of documents that have surfaced referencing several tax liens filed against the restaurant owner during Sheffield's early days of ownership. Sheffield owns and operates Las Casas Restaurant and Catering, a Temple-based business.
The most significant amount refers to money owed over a three-year period in the mid-1980s, when he owed nearly $9,000 to the government. That amount grew over several years with penalties and interest, and by the late 1990s, it had more than tripled the original amount owed, until the matter was settled in 1999 for an amount in excess of $50,000.
Sheffield provided documents to the assembled media, holding them up and saying, "Here is proof that I have paid my taxes." He called Tyroch's tactics "lies" and said her use of negative campaigning is not what the voters want to see in an election.
Tyroch's campaign manager, Stephen Schar, acting as a spokesman for his candidate, said Wednesday that both Tyroch and the participants in the campaign are treating Sheffield's response as an attempt to lessen the significance of the issue and diminish his responsibility.
"It's a shame Ralph is upset," Schar said. "It is not him, but the voters of Central Texas, who are being wronged. First, he didn't pay his taxes, then he didn't pay his creditors. Now he's trying to mislead the voters with lies about his tax record."
While Sheffield is currently running a television commercial in which he responds to Tyroch's claims, he stated, "I'm not firing back" Wednesday, adding that he wants to talk about issues, not partake in a negative campaign.
Contact Justin Cox at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7568