Buried in a down-ballot Bexar County race, Christine Hortick’s math isn’t adding up. At least four people listed on Hortick’s most recent campaign finance report in her race for Bexar County Commissioners Court Precinct 3 said they never gave to her campaign.
According to Hortick’s October 5 report, Brad Carson, Debra Guerrero, J. David Heller, and Daniel Ortiz gave $1,750 to her campaign. Ortiz, a member of the finance committee of Hortick’s opponent Trish DeBerry, said in an October 13 press release by DeBerry’s campaign that he was “shocked” to see his name erroneously listed as a donor.
“I have thrown my full support behind Trish and until this morning had very little information about her opponent,” Ortiz said. “I should be immediately removed.”
Hortick has chalked up the mistakes to a clerical error and said in an email that her campaign filed a corrected report last week. A search in the Bexar County Elections Department website still shows her October 5 filing as the most recent report.
Using address and employer information, The Texan confirmed the identities of three more false donors, who each said that they never donated to Hortick’s campaign and should not be listed on her report.
Tom Marks, DeBerry’s campaign manager, noted over the phone that filing with Bexar County’s “arcane” system requires a physical signature by the candidate swearing that she has reviewed the document.
“We’re in the second week of early voting and she has no transparency,” Marks said.
Marks also claimed that more erroneously listed donors have come forth, enough to account for over half of Hortick’s dollars.
Ortiz and Heller show up on DeBerry’s finance report as donors, though only Ortiz has openly expressed support for DeBerry. Marks claimed there were at least two more false names on Hortick’s report, though neither have responded for comment.
The Democratic Hortick, an attorney, has put the expansion of public transportation high on her platform, also promising to create a commission on women’s health.
DeBerry, founder of a San Antonio marketing agency, touts her support for lower taxes and property appraisal reform.
Conflicts of interest between local government agencies and DeBerry’s company lost her the already reluctant endorsement of the San Antonio Express-News, with the paper more impressed by Hortick’s support for bail reform. DeBerry ran against Julian Castro for the mayor’s office in 2009 under her married name, DeBerry-Mejia, and lost.
One of the candidates will replace Commissioner Kevin Wolff (R-Prct. 3), son of Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and the only Republican on the court. Wolff won in 2016 with over 58 percent of the vote.
DeBerry has shrugged off criticism, especially from runoff candidate and former judge Tom Rickhoff, for her indiscriminate political lobbying and alleged donations to Democrats. Rickhoff pegged her as a lukewarm insider “coming out of the Wolff pack” last year.
The commissioners court wields the power of the purse and decides the county tax rate and budget each fiscal year. Controversy last flared in the Bexar County Commissioners Court when a proposal to halve funding for the constable’s office passed, perceived by both supporters and detractors as an effort to defund the police. Democrat Tommy Calvert was the only commissioner to vote against the budget.
Editor’s note: This article was updated to include a response from Hortick.
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