Mosely campaign breaches ethics laws

Published 5:54 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2016


A Jefferson County Precinct 3 Commissioner candidate who is campaigning on a platform of earning trust likely has violated Texas election laws, and, at the least, drew the ire of the incumbent.

Stephen A. Mosely is seeking the Commissioner seat against Michael “Shane” Sinegal, who is serving his second term.

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At issue is a campaign letter mailed to Precinct 3 constituents that portrays Mosely as County Commissioner even before early voting has started.

Mosely’s campaign letter details why he believes he is the better candidate and, at the end of the page, is the line, “Stephen A. Mosely County Commissioner Precinct 3 ‘Working to Earn Your Trust.’”

Only problem is Mosely is not a county commissioner.

Title 14, Section 255.006 in The Texas Election Code, which regulates political funds and campaigns, states that it is illegal for a candidate that does not hold an office they are seeking to represent themselves as the office holder in political advertising or campaign communication.

There is a separate part of that statute that says if a candidate is going to include their name and office sought they have to use the word “for” to indicate they do not hold that office.

The word “for” should be in a type size that is at least one-half the type size used for the name of the office to clarify that the candidate does not hold that office.

A violation of the statute is a Class A misdemeanor.

Sinegal said he has been inundated with calls from people who received the letter, many of which brought him a copy.

“I saw that crap. It is a lot of propaganda,” Sinegal said.

Not only has Mosely identified himself as county commissioner in the letter, Sinegal said he has heard Mosely do the same thing at political forums.

“It’s totally illegal, and misleading,” Sinegal said. “I think he has delusions of grandeur. I really think he thinks he is commissioner.”

Ian Steusloff, general counsel with the Texas Ethics Commission, said the Ethics Commission has civil enforcement powers, but not criminal.

The Ethics Commission provides candidate and campaign information to the public on its website to ensure that people know what they need to do, or what is prohibited during a campaign.

“I cannot speak for the legislature that adopted this, but they’ve determined that people cannot misrepresent themselves as office holders when they are not,” Steusloff said.

Any charges filed would need to be on a local level, with the county attorney or district attorney, Steusloff said.

Sinegal said he has mulled it over and decided not to seek criminal charges, to let the voters have their say at the March 1 Primary election.

“I take a lot of exception, but not enough to file an ethics complaint,” Sinegal said. “I am going to see him at the polls, let the people speak and then remind him he is still not commissioner.”

Mosely did not return The News calls for comment on this article.


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