WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - After an ethics complaint was filed against Councilor Steven Jackson, he hired attorney Elizabeth Alvarez out of the Forney, Texas law firm Guest & Gray.
When asked to speak about the ethics complaint Jackson referred News Channel 6 to Alvarez who said in a statement:
“Free speech exists so that people like Councilman Jackson can speak directly to their constituency regarding perceived issues and not so they can simply parrot lines deemed unoffensive by the Mayor or that otherwise highlight things the Mayor doesn’t want the public to know…”
Alvarez feels the ethics complaint violates Jackson's free speech. In May 2018, the city of Wichita Falls held a bond election with seven propositions. One of them included building a $70 million municipal center. Residents voted it down. Alvarez claims that the ethics code complaint was filed by Mayor Stephen Santellana.
Alvarez states that Councilman Jackson believes that the city intends to pursue the plan to build a municipal center, and that Jackson went to downtown constituents to tell them that he felt the results would “cause them harm”.
After the ethics complaint was filed, the city opened an investigation.
City Attorney Kinley Hegglund said in a statement to News Channel 6 that the investigation wrapped up Tuesday. He added that the complaint was in regards to a possible violation of code of ethics section 2-146 which pertains to council members making “false and misleading statements”.
Disciplinary action for violating this rule includes possible suspension, forfeit of salary, or expulsion from the city council.
In response to the investigation, Alvarez wrote a four page letter to the city where she says that if a hearing results in her client being removed from office or in any way impacts his right to free speech she plans to take matters to federal court.
The city’s attorney Kinley Hegglund will be sending a report of his investigation’s findings to council members tomorrow morning. A hearing will be held on the August 20. Hegglund says the hearing could be an open or executive session depending on Councilor Jackson’s preference. If any action is taken it will be announced in a public meeting.