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Beard runs for Place 4 seat after Sanctuary City success

The contest for the Place Four City Council seat may be the only one that will be decided on May 6 without a runoff because there are just two candidates in the race.

Scott Beard is one of the candidates hoping to replace Weldon Hurt, who is running for mayor. Beard is pastor of FountainGate Fellowship, and has been instrumental in 1-Kingdom, an organization that brings together church leaders from around the Big Country in an effort to establish unity across church denominations. He also founded Project Destiny in Abilene, which spearheaded the campaign in 2022 to make Abilene a Sanctuary City for the Unborn. Beard aims to establish community standards in the city and wants to support small businesses.

We spoke to Scott Beard before controversy amped up around his campaigning. This series of interviews with candidates is intended to inform voters on issues municipal leaders face and we have brought you this conversation that focuses on the issues.

KACU is including previous coverage of the campaign below.

The IRS says it cannot confirm whether it has received a complaint about comments Pastor Beard made at the end of a recent service at FountainGate Fellowship. In a video first reported by KTXS Pastor Beard, who’s running for a city council seat, encourages congregants to pick up signs to put in their yards on their way out of the church, “I hear there’s some dude running for city council and you might could get his signs out in the foyer, I’m just sayin’. They’re out there. If you don’t have a sign in your yard, put one in your yard. I don’t know who the dude is but I hear he’s good lookin’.”

KTXS followed up with Beard this week when the pastor reported that he’d received a response from his inquiry to the Texas Ethics Commission as to whether he had violated the IRS’s code prohibiting non-profit organizations from participating in political campaigns.

McMurry University Political Science Professor Paul Fabrizio says the TEC oversees state and local campaigns, and he can understand why the pastor asked for the commission’s opinion, “The TEC said they don’t have any jurisdiction. That was the message that went back to the pastor. And it is not an exoneration in any way. It was simply an acknowledgment that the Texas Ethics Commission doesn’t get involved in that kind of stuff. This is an IRS matter.”

Fabrizio says a complaint could prompt the IRS to cancel the church’s non-profit status, though that rarely happens, “This regulation from the IRS regarding churches and nonprofits goes back to 1954, and according to ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, which did a big feature on this last year only one church for sure has lost its tax-exempt status. And there’s been many complaints that have been filed.”

Place 4 Abilene City Council candidate Scott Beard posted an apology on Facebook for how he handled frustration with the KTXS reporter who covered his comments in a church service that prompted a complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission. Pastor Beard had encouraged congregants to pick up his political signs for their yards as they left a recent service at Fountaingate Fellowship. Beard told the reporter in an interview that he received a response from the TEC that he felt exonerated him.

After the interview Beard followed the reporter to her car, urging her to focus on the TEC, not the IRS aspect of the story. “When she closed the door I made the mistake of opening the door and then I asked her to please work with me. Clearly, that was a mistake and I regret it,” Beard said in his apology video.

Beard went on to explain in the video that despite clearance from the TEC on having his signs at the church, he has now changed his approach, “However today I’m faced with an opposition that isn’t playing fair, and that isn’t delivering a message that’s true and righteous. So after much prayer and counsel from both my campaign team as well as counsel from my elders I’ve decided to remove all campaign signs from our property.”

In an email to KACU, Pastor Beard also said he regrets encouraging those at his service to pick up his yard signs and has decided to be more prudent in decisions regarding his political campaign.

Learn more about Beard's campaign on his website and follow him on social media.

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.
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