San Antonio’s District One City Councilman, Diego Bernal, is being fined by the Texas Eth- ics Commission for accepting corporate campaign donations. Tom Curry, a Houston-area Tea Party supporter, filed a com- plaint about Bernal participat- ing in questionable out-of-state trips and having a list of expen- ditures and donations on his statements.
According to KENS5 news, when the councilman was called
in to testify, he said “sloppy re- porting was to blame” and that “many mistakes were caused by an auto-fill feature on an online form.”
However, the Texas Ethics Commission found that Coun- cilman Bernal forgot to properly report some political contribu- tions, mislabeled trips he took and did not file his campaign report on time.
“I have nothing to hide,” Ber- nal said when questioned by KENS5 about the incident, “I take responsibility for the clerical mistakes, mistakes that should not have been made.” Bernal will pay $750 in sanctions to settle an ethics complaint.
The situation gets more com-
plicated for Councilman Bernal due to criticisms over the re- cently passed Non-Discrimina- tion Ordinance (NDO), which expands the city’s current non- discrimination policy to prohib- it discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender iden- tity, and veteran status.
However, according to the Washington Times, “There are certainly sections of the ordi- nance that lead one to question whether discrimination against other classes will be the ultimate result.”
The NDO does not men- tion protection for people with certain political beliefs or affiliations. This is what mostly disturbed the thousands who
protested against the ordinance and went door-to-door to obtain 6,000 signatures to recall Coun- cilman Bernal. Gina Castaneda, the leader of the Recall Team, said that the turnout to sign the petition was overwhelming.
Castaneda explained that what she was asking of the peo- ple of San Antonio was a simple request to support true family values and preserve freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Despite the large turnout and support from many citizens, however, the petition did not pass.
Weston Martinez, former councilman and Texas Free- dom Political Action Commit- tee president, was also strongly
against Bernal’s NDO. He said in an interview for the
San Antonio Express-News that “Bernal and others are using LGBT people as a political foot- ball to prop up the mayor and to try to keep people out of city hall who are not progressives.”
Martinez recruited 15 peo- ple and went door-to-door in downtown neighborhoods seeking signatures for Bernal’s recall. Martinez explained how Bernal’s proposals would inter- fere with people’s own rights to religious freedom. Bernal found these efforts by Martinez to be insulting and silly.
“It makes our city look ridicu- lous. They want me out of office because I want to treat every
person in this city fairly and equally.” As of Jan. 14, however, Diego Bernal is still councilman of District 1 in San Antonio.
This is not the only time the San Antonio City Council has had ethical issues. A group of citizens from The Woodlands, Texas, filed ethics complaints in March 2013 against Mayor Ju- lian Castro and the entire coun- cil.
This same group has reported over 1,000 ethics complaints throughout Texas.