Court rejects Chambers’ effort to stay on ballot

The Texas Supreme Court on Thursday denied a request by Republican sheriff’s candidate John Chambers to have his name placed on the Republican ballot for the May 24 runoff election in CameronCounty.

Chambers had filed a writ of mandamus and a motion for injunctive relief against CameronCounty and the county’s Republican Party requesting that the county refrain from printing the ballots for the runoff election until the issue regarding his ineligibility had been resolved.

Chambers argued that his name should be on the ballot. The county’s Republican Party maintained he was ineligible because of his conviction of 14 counts of tampering with government records.

The Texas Supreme Court did not give a reason for denying Chambers request. It merely stated “motion for injunctive relief denied.”

Chambers’ attorney, Jesus Villalobos, said although his client’s quest for office is “temporarily halted,” Chambers will return “when the fabricated accusations against him are overturned on appeal.”

Villalobos said if the court overturns Chambers’ conviction he can petition for the reinstatement of his peace officer’s license.

Chambers was the top vote getter — out a field of four primary candidates — in the March 1 primary election for sheriff on the Republican ticket. Because he failed to get 50 percent plus one of the votes cast in the race, he was to be in a runoff election with Victor Cortez.

However, Republican Party Chair Morgan Graham informed Chambers earlier this month that he was ineligible to be on the ballot because of his January conviction on 14 counts of tampering with government records. According to state prosecutors, Chambers created false entries in governmental records concerning firearm qualification for some of his deputies.

As a result, his peace officer’s license was revoked.

Before removing Chambers from the ballot, Morgan sought a legal opinion from the Secretary of State’s Election Division, which stated it was the division’s opinion that a person who has a felony conviction is ineligible to serve as sheriff “regardless of whether or not that conviction is final.” Under the local government code, a person who wants to be sheriff needs to be a licensed peace officer. However, a person convicted of a felony cannot be licensed as a peace officer.

With Chambers being removed from the ballot, Robert Rodriguez, who had the third most votes in the election will be in the runoff election against Cortez.