Victoria County finance reports reveal big spenders, fundraisers

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

May 26, 2012 at 12:26 a.m.
Updated May 27, 2012 at 12:27 a.m.

Candidates seeking public office in Victoria County have spent almost $125,000 on their campaigns, according to public financial records.

With the Democratic and Republican Party primaries days away, that amount should see significant increases as candidates collect last-minute contributions or pour personal funds into their campaigns.

The most expensive race is proving to be in the Republican Party nomination for sheriff. The candidates, B. Scott Hornstein and incumbent T. Michael O'Connor and, have spent a combined $68,502.

Hornstein's expenses, according to the report he filed May 21, total $22,780. O'Connor's report, filed the same day, shows $42,301 in expenses, making him the top spender in the county's races.

O'Connor's largest single expense was $9,142 to Lamar Outdoor Advertising, which was the largest single expenditure of all county candidates. He also received the most contributions - $55,615 - in the county's races, including $5,000 from Robert Hewett Jr.

Hornstein received the second most contributions: $24,763. His largest single contribution, which was also the largest among all the county's candidates, was $10,000 from Kenneth Gregory Jr., of Victoria.

Hornstein said his campaign worked with what they could raise.

"I was hoping we could keep it under $30,000," he said. "I don't know if you can put a number on campaigns. Some national campaigns spend millions and millions."

His largest expense went to advertising. He plans to run a new radio ad through voting day, as well as two newspaper ads.

O'Connor did not return multiple requests for comment this week.

In the Precinct 3 commissioner race between Gary Burns and Gary Charbula for the Republican Party nomination and Rey Herrera for the Democratic Party nomination, Burns is the top spender and fundraiser.

According to the report he filed May 21, Burns collected $6,775 and has spent $7,241. His report lists loans from his previous campaigns totaling $28,500. He contributed $3,000 to his campaign for re-election.

Charbula and Herrera have not taken out any loans and did not report any contributions.

Charbula spent $3,376, according to an April 26 report. Herrera spent $1,387, according to his Jan. 19 report.

The Precinct 1 Commissioner race has reached nearly $24,000 in expenditures.

Danny Garcia, who is seeking the seat after retiring from Texas Department of Transportation, has spent and raised the most funds in that race. His April 30 report indicated $7,516 spent and $7,708 raised.

Garcia did not meet the deadline for filing his 8-day report.

His largest expense was $2,238 paid to the Danny Garcia Campaign for a fundraiser.

He said he has spent the most in an effort to build up name recognition.

"Before this race, Danny Garcia was virtually an unknown person in Victoria County," he said. "The names I'm against are all big politicians in Victoria County - they don't have to have as much advertising. I have to market myself."

He raised $6,143 from his fundraiser.

"When we had the fundraiser, that proved to me that I had the backing support of the people I needed," Garcia said. "This money is here in the account, I've got to spend it for what it was raised for."

His largest expenses have been for television commercials, print advertisements and mailers.

Incumbent Kenny Spann has spent $5,517, according to the report he filed May 21. Former Justice of the Peace Annie Ramos spent $4,592, and took out a $9,000 loan from Trinidad Ramos Jr. for her campaign for the Democratic Party nomination.

Former city councilman Gabriel Soliz, who is running for Precinct 1 commissioner, has not filed a financial report since Dec. 12.

That report was a waiver, indicating he planned to spend and collect less than $500.

Soliz said his campaign has only spent about $380, a significant portion of that has been in gasoline.

"I don't have any money, so I've been getting volunteers where I can," he said.

Soliz said he reused his campaign signs from the last time he ran for commissioner eight years ago.

"As far as financing the campaign, that's just the nature of the beast," Soliz said. "At the end of the day, you can spend a million dollars, but if only 300 people come out to vote, you'll be stuck scratching your head."



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