Political circulars show ugly side to Edinburg elections

EDINBURG — Residents here are getting an eyeful when opening their mailboxes.

Political brochures, often called mailers, are circulating Edinburg neighborhoods, and a handful of them are raising eyebrows and making several allegations.

One of the more colorful ones includes a picture of Fern “The Owl” McClaugherty, who is seeking Place 1, photo-edited to appear as a bird with the words, “Keep your dirty claws off our taxpayer dollars!” written in bold letters underneath.

“My teeth are gorgeous,” she said about the image. “They did no justice for me. I did love the picture.”

The back of the mailer contains copies of checks McClaugherty received from the city for work stemming from a business she owns with her husband, Pinky’s Upholstery.

“Yes, we do work for all kinds of people,” she said. “If I didn’t, I’d be out of business.”

And while the mailer targeting McClaugherty is more colorful than alarming, there are others that run red-hot.

One of them hits two of the three mayoral candidates. On one side it accuses Edinburg Council Member Richard Molina of beating his wife, and on the other it accuses Mayor Richard H. Garcia of handing out contracts to his supporters.

Garcia did not respond to a request for comment on the image that depicts him as an airplane handing out money to the political powerhouse that is the Palacios family, his wife Myra Garcia, Obie Salinas, who has a $75,000 contract with the city’s development arm, and Alonzo Cantu, the owner of the Toros soccer team and stadium.

“I think they’re pretty immature,” Molina said about the brochure. “I didn’t expect the opposition to stoop that low.”

The side that targets him displays a doctored picture of his smiling wife doctored with bruising on her face.

Words above the picture read: “Richard Molina’s current wife! The physical abuse she has endured by him.”

Molina, a former police officer, called the allegation ridiculous and lamented his wife’s involvement in the political arena. “She doesn’t have to do with anything,” he said. “She’s not running for office.”

WHO’S PAYING?

Mailers don’t come cheap.

The mailer that targeted the mayoral candidates was paid for by the Rio Grande Valley People Against Corruption PAC.

The political action committee appears to be fairly new. It only has one filing with the Texas Ethics Commission that indicated it had not raised or spent any money during the first half of the year.

Jose A. “Joseph” Campos is listed as the PAC’s treasurer.

McClaugherty, on the other hand, is trying to find the person or entity responsible for circulating the material targeting her. The postcard-sized paper indicates it was paid for by “Eladro Lynch, Project to Inform Citizens to Vote Smart” but there is no record of its existence.

A Google search turned up nothing and the name is not registered as a PAC with the Federal Ethics Commission, the Texas Ethics Commission and Hidalgo County.

It’s also not registered with the city of Edinburg, said McClaugherty, who is considering taking legal action.

The maker of the mailer also used a picture of McClaugherty that was taken by a Monitor photographer several years ago — though they had not authorization to use the publication’s image.

The brochure goes on to quote a Monitor article published July 11 in which McClaugherty said, “I don’t want for anyone to think that I can be bought, bribed or anything” when she announced she was running for office.

“I can’t be intimated either, in case you want to add that,” she said Monday. “Young little stud going after a little old lady — ain’t that pathetic?”