Criminal JusticeElections 2022Local NewsAmidst Ongoing Lawsuit Over Water Board Election, Members Question Board President’s Felony Convictions Pardon

An Odessa-area elected official is being questioned if he ever received a pardon that would allow him to hold public office.
October 24, 2022
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Two board members of the Ector County Utility District (ECUD), Troy Walker and Will Kappauf, are questioning whether board President Tommy Ervin ever received a gubernatorial pardon that would allow him to legally hold public office.

According to public records, Ervin was charged and convicted of four felony counts of dealing cocaine and methamphetamine in the late 1970s, and was granted parole after serving a substantial portion of a 36-year prison sentence.  

DPS criminal records indicate the term “clemency” on Ervin’s record, which typically implies he received a pardon and is eligible to hold office.

The Texan obtained copies of Ervins original court records from the Ector County District Clerk’s Office, which included evidence that parole had been requested, but did not include any evidence relating to a pardon.  

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (TBPP) responded to a request for public records, writing that they found nothing to indicate Ervin had received clemency.

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“After a thorough search of our available records, we have found no reference to ‘Thomas “Tommy” Glenn Ervin’ applying for or receiving any type of pardon/clemency; therefore, the Board does not have any information responsive to your request.”

Texas Public Information Act request on pardon/clemency for Thomas Ervin.

TBBP also advised in their response that the Texas Secretary of State is the official record keeper in clemency matters. A request for an expedited review of public records has also been submitted to the secretary of state, and a response is pending.

According to a 2019 opinion by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the election code provides that to be eligible as a candidate for public office a person must “have not been finally convicted of a felony from which the person has not been pardoned or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities.”

Directors Walker and Kappauf say that after they learned of Ervin’s criminal records and how they potentially disqualify him from office, they allowed Ervin the opportunity to provide a copy of his official pardon.

However, since Ervin has not provided them with documentation other than the DPS public records search, they have called for an emergency meeting of the board to discuss the issue.

ECUD made news recently with Walker and Kappauf joining a West Odessa resident, Jesse Christesson, in suing ECUD, alleging the board placed them up for re-election this November illegally.

After initially approving a restraining order pausing the election, on Friday, State District Judge John Shrode allowed the election to proceed. Early voting began on Monday. 

Kappauf told The Texan that Ervin’s criminal record has been rumored for a while, but it wasn’t until further researching the issue they discovered the felony conviction was a disqualification to hold public office. 

The Texan contacted Ector County Attorney Lee McClendon as well as Ector County Elections Administrator Lisa Sertuche by email for comment. In addition, multiple records requests for Ervin’s candidate application for a place on the ballot, which contains an affidavit swearing to the candidate’s qualifications, have been submitted. As of publication, there has been no response. 

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Matt Stringer

Matt Stringer is a reporter for The Texan who writes about all things government, politics, and public policy in West Texas. He graduated summa cum laude from Odessa College with an Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies and is presently finishing a Bachelor’s Degree in Management and Leadership. In his free time, you will find him in the great outdoors, usually in the Davis Mountains and Big Bend region of Southwest Texas.