Ector County Judge Candidate Chris Fostel said Friday he did not know how much money he raised in 2018, if any, or why he missed a Monday deadline to turn in his campaign finance report set by state law.
“I don’t have that stuff in front me,” Fostel said when he was asked about the late report in a phone call. “I’ll have to check with my treasurer.”
Asked if he knew how much money he’d raised and why the report was late, Fostel, an attorney, said “I do not.”
Fostel’s campaign finance report was turned into county elections officials after the OA contacted him. A subsequent call to Fostel requesting comment was returned by his campaign treasurer, Xenia Martinez, who declined to explain why the report was turned in late but said the candidate had been in a jury trial in Midland this week.
“Mr. Fostel’s campaign finances have always been in order, but what happened this week is his clients are his first priority,” Martinez said.
Candidates for public office in Texas can face penalties including fines for failing to report the campaign funds they raise and spend. Fostel met the previous deadlines detailing campaign finances with two reports showing funds and expenses in December and January.
In that period, he reported raising about $5,600 — a figure dwarfed by his opponent in the Republican primary, businesswoman Debi Hays. Hays had reported raising more than $23,000 by the end of December.
Fostel’s campaign finance report on Friday listed another $1,250 in political contributes in February, expenses of about $3,100 and nearly $800 cash on hand.
Martinez declined to say who turned in the campaign finance report or even what time it was turned in, but elections officials said it was around 1:30 p.m. Friday.
“If you really want to focus on something you should focus on the gross ethical violations that his opponent and the West Texas Republicans made,” Martinez said.
What were those? Martinez declined to say. But she did take another jab at Hays.
“Unlike his opponent, he does have a real job,” Martinez said.
As it happened, Hays, who owns La Mirage Spa and Beauty Salon, said she worked Friday with a break around the lunch hour to campaign.
Hays said Fostel’s failure to comply with reporting requirements “states volumes as to how responsible he is.”
“Being the county judge, with the responsibilities you have, you should be on top of stuff,” Hays said. “The voters hold you accountable, and that’s why we turn them in. That’s why it’s a requirement of the law … It’s about accountability and transparency. And accountability and transparency is what the voters look for.”
Hays’ most recent filing showed she had spent more than $15,000 through Feb. 22, which was the end of the filing period. Most went to campaign signs, mailers and radio advertisements. Hays said she spent another $5,000 on mailers after the end of the period covered in the latest campaign finance report, which leaves her with about $5,000 cash on hand.
Most of Fostel’s expenditures also went to campaign advertising.
The Republican primary is set to decide the county judge race, because there are no other challengers for the post.