Groves: Photos at issue; Councilman Coburn calls matter purely ‘personal’

Published 4:26 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2018

GROVES — A Groves city councilman is defending his privacy and his personal life after revealing photos of him shown on the Internet were sent anonymously to City Hall and The Port Arthur News.

But council members may not take the issue lightly.

On Monday, The News received an envelope with no return address. A cover letter provided contact information for Cross Coburn, 19, who is the Ward 1 councilman as well as a statement: “Is this in any way proper behavior of a councilman to represent himself online or a ‘dating’ app? I felt the city council should be made aware of the situation.”

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Photos of Cross clothed and shirtless and a dialogue between him and another person were included in the packet as well as photos of a male sex organ.

Groves Mayor Brad Bailey said the city also received a packet regarding Coburn. There was a meeting between Coburn and his attorney, a representative of the city’s human resources office, the mayor and police where it was deemed that nothing illegal had occurred.

“I would like it to be known that the city is aware of this (photos), the allegations of photos of private areas,” Bailey said. “We have met and discussed it with our police department and HR department. It will be an issue.”

Cross said he does not believe the issue will jeopardize his political career, adding that this is about his personal life.

“I am 19, still very young,” Cross said. “The reason I want this position (on city council) is to learn. This is my first political post in my own home town and it’s a great way of learning.”

Bailey didn’t seem to feel the same as Cross about the issue.

“Personally I think it’s unbecoming of a public official, regardless of age,” Bailey said.

Council members are limited in what they can do in response to the revelations but, Bailey said, citizens are empowered to petition for a recall election.

A recall election cannot occur within six months of election, per information from the city of Groves.

Last year, former Ward 1 Councilman Jim Rasa withdrew from the scheduled election on Aug. 21, 2017, which was the last day to file for a spot on the ballot, saying he wanted to spare the city the cost of an election. Cross filed for the seat on Aug. 18, 2017.

With no opponent, Cross became the Ward 1 councilmember in November 2017.