INTERNET EXCLUSIVE: Chambers off ballot

Cameron County Republican sheriff candidate John Chambers’ name will not appear on the upcoming runoff ballot for the position.

An email sent out Thursday from Cameron County Republican Party Chair Morgan Graham to Chambers, she stated she had been presented with “a conclusive public document establishing” his “ineligibility to hold office of Cameron County Sheriff.”

Chambers, a candidate for Cameron County sheriff and former Indian Lake police chief, was found guilty of 14 counts of tampering with government records. Investigators said Chambers created false entries in government records concerning firearms qualification for some of his deputies on or about Jan. 13, 2015.

Now he is running for sheriff and is in a runoff election with Victor Cortez. Both were the top vote-getters in the March 1 election, beating out two others with the hopes to face off with incumbent Omar Lucio.

But, now it doesn’t look so good for Chambers.

Graham wrote in the email that because of the convictions, Chambers will be ineligible for licensing as a peace officer and thus cannot hold the office he is seeking.

“The Occupations Code prohibits your licensure even if your conviction is overturned on appeal,” she wrote. “Therefore, I am administratively declaring you ineligible to appear on the Republican runoff ballot for Cameron County Sheriff.”

Graham included in the email a document from Keith Ingram, the Elections Division Director of the Office of the Secretary of State.

Ingram’s letter appears to respond to a question regarding Chambers that was sent to the Secretary of State’s office.

“The conviction is currently on appeal and is therefor not final,” he wrote. “The question is whether or not this candidate can be declared ineligible to run for the office of sheriff by the county party chair.”

The letter states, Texas Local Government Code requires a person who wants to be sheriff be licensable as a peace officer. It also states that a person who has been “convicted” by a court of a felony is not eligible for a peace officer license regardless of whether the conviction is later dismissed.

“It is our opinion that a person who has a felony conviction is ineligible to serve as sheriff regardless of whether or not that conviction is final,” Ingram stated in the letter. “Therefore, under Texas Election Code 145.003, the candidate may be declared administratively ineligible based on court documents demonstrating the felony conviction.”

See more on this story in the VMS print edition and online later as it develops and more information is obtained.

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