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Texas Ethics Commission investigating new complaint against Beard campaign

The complaint focuses on Beard's use of church property for campaign activity including social media videos.
The complaint focuses on Beard's use of church property for campaign activity including social media videos.

After issues with distributing campaign signs at church, and confusing wording on campaign mailing, Abilene City Council Place 4 candidate Scott Beard is facing a new complaint. Michael Bob Starr says the Texas Ethics Commission has begun an investigation based on a complaint he filed in April. Starr reported that Pastor Beard has used the FountainGate Fellowship property for his campaign’s mailing address, to store and distribute campaign materials, and as a setting for media interviews and social media videos. Starr says these actions represent in-kind contributions. Beard has reported $21,090 in monetary political contributions, but no in-kind contributions.

According to Starr, the failure to report in-kind contributions is a misdemeanor, and because the church is a corporation, he believes the contributions are a felony. Starr says he does not believe Beard’s actions should be excused as mistakes, “Some, including Scott Beard, have suggested that his previous violations were simple mistakes from a first time candidate. I will point out that of the ten candidates vying for mayor or city council in Abilene this election seven of them are first time candidates. And only one of them seems to be struggling to keep their campaign within the bounds of the law.”

Starr says while he is a friend and supporter of Place 4 candidate Brian Yates, he has no formal role in the Yates campaign. Pastor Beard and his supporters have complained that criticism of Beard’s campaign amount to a spiritual attack. Starr says he disagrees, “I believe in spiritual warfare. I have experienced spiritual warfare. But I also know that the Bible promises negative consequences to people who take bad advice. And that is not spiritual warfare, and I think that’s what is happening.”

The TEC said in their written notice to the complainant and the candidate that Beard has 25 days to respond to the complaint.

Scott Beard declined to be interviewed for this story, and is working on a written response.

Heather Claborn joined KACU as news director in January 2018. She oversees daily newscast and feature reporting and works with KACU’s news anchors to develop newscasts. She also conducts two-way interviews, reports for newscast and feature stories and maintains the station’s social media and website content. In 2020, Claborn helped staff develop the daily newsletter that is delivered by email.