Handful of candidates fail to file campaign finance reports in Donna

DONNA — Two city council candidates did not file any of the required campaign finance reports, making it unclear who has been funding their runoff campaigns and where money is being spent.

Donna mayoral candidate Rick Morales and council member Place 3 candidate Arturo “Art” Castillo did not file the paperwork required by the Texas Ethics Commission by the set deadlines.

Both candidates said Wednesday they plan on filing the reports in the coming days.

“I’m going to file it,” Morales said. “I have most of it done. I need to go with the (certified public accountant) and kind of put everything together.”

Morales said his time has been consumed with taking care of a family member who’s sick instead of on the campaign.

His slate, which includes Castillo and recently-elected Place 1 Council Member Oscar Gonzalez, spent “probably about $35,000, maybe $37,000” throughout the campaign, Morales said. He also said he used some of his own money in his bid for mayor, which must also be disclosed.

The runoff candidates and Gonzalez, who also did not submit his campaign finance reports, used the money to pay for campaign workers, food and political mail, Morales said. They also spent an undisclosed sum on a campaign party.

“We’ve been so busy with other things,” Castillo said. “So, we have to talk to our campaign treasurer.”

Candidates, not campaign treasurers, are responsible for filing the reports, according to a guide prepared by the Texas Ethics Commission.

Castillo said he used some of the money for campaign signs.

“Really, I should have been on top of it,” Castillo said.

Donna mayoral candidate Simon Sauceda and city council Place 3 candidate Guadalupe “Lupita” Bueno filed campaign finance reports in October, according to their paperwork.

Sauceda filed under the slate name SGC for Donna. His two running mates, Sonia Gallegos and Adolfo Campos, did not win their elections.

Sauceda, though, did not file one set of campaign finance reports due 30 days before the election. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

SGC for Donna received $25,500 in political contributions between July 19 and Oct. 30, according to paperwork filed with the city of Donna.

The slate did not itemize where the money was spent, but instead included an attachment of their PlainsCapital Bank account information. The move, however, makes it difficult to determine how they spent more than $21,400 over the course of their campaigns.

During the same period, Wesley Richard Lefever — the owner of McAllen-based LeFevre Engineering & Management Consulting LLC — contributed $5,000 to SGC for Donna, known as the Donna DNA slate. Winstead PAC, a political action committee based in San Antonio, donated $1,000.

As of Oct. 30, the slate still had a little more than $4,000 in the bank, according to the report.

Bueno, a candidate for councilmember Place 3, spent less than $1,000 on her campaign up until Oct. 6, according to the reports.

The $1,400 she’s using to fund her campaign came from four donors. She spent the largest amount on signs, cards and flyers — only $500.

From Oct. 7 through Oct. 30, she received $850 in political contributions.

Campaigns are only subject to penalties if a complaint is filed with the district attorney or Texas Ethics Commission, according to a guide prepared by the commission. It’s unclear if any complaints have been filed.

Early voting is currently underway and Election Day is Dec. 12.