Jefferson County Republicans accuse Beaumont city councilman of - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Jefferson County Republicans accuse Beaumont city councilman of violating election law

BEAUMONT - The Beaumont city council considers this year's Juneteenth celebration a success, but not everyone feels the same.

Rick Williams is legal counsel to the local GOP.  He told council members the city-sponsored event promoted Democratic candidates and he says that is a Class A misdemeanor.

Williams said, "Our citizens are just crying for their elected officials, for honesty, integrity and we've got to get control of the place, got to get it straightened out and these types of things come out at the wrong time."

Councilman Jamie Smith organized the Juneteenth event, and he says in an effort to help increase voter participation, candidates were introduced, but he says the disc jockey took it too far by endorsing some of them.

Smith said, "The DJ called the list out, but he added something to it and once we caught it, it was brought to our attention, you know it was stopped."

Smith estimates 8,000 people attended the event, four times the amount as to when it started five years ago.  Republicans say that makes the situation even worse for them since that means many people were exposed to the endorsements.

But the councilman is not passing the buck, he's apologized to the Jefferson County Republicans, and is taking full responsibility.

He said, "I'm embarrassed, that they're trying to link it to the city, I stand on what happened happened, and there's nothing I can do to take it back, but there was no malicious intent intended.

Mayor Becky Ames wants to make sure it doesn't happen again, she's asking the city attorney to draft a policy in which candidates are not introduced at city funded events.  She says the council will have to vote on the policy.

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