Attorney issues cease and desist letter in Cameron County sheriff’s race

John Chambers Courtesy: Facebook

Republican candidate for Cameron County Sheriff John Chambers sent a press release on Wednesday in which he announced the campaign had issued a cease and desist letter to Democratic Candidate Eric Garza, in relation to statements made on social media.

The cease and desist cited various statements made by Garza on Facebook and accuses the candidate of making statements “intended to mislead the public for political gain.”

The statements cited in the letter do not appear to be entirely untrue, and Chambers has made statements against Garza both on social media and to reporters citing rumors that remain unverified – including that Garza is being controlled by “groups of power” and that he has allegedly already chosen a second-in-command in violation of election law.

Chambers did not respond to a request for comment on some of the allegations cited in the letter.

Garza wrote in an email response, “I’ve made it a point to present facts to the public concerning my opponent’s criminal history so that citizens may make informed voting decisions. It is my opinion that one’s criminal history is relevant information concerning any person seeking higher office, which includes a position as important as Cameron County Sheriff.”

Chambers writes that the “jury’s verdict has been vacated as to the felony offenses” in relation to the 14 state jail felonies he was convicted of in 2016 for tampering with governmental records.

The candidate referenced posts from Garza published on Aug. 13, Sept. 3, Sept. 10, which featured statements including that “Mr. Chambers was found guilty by a jury of his Cameron County peers to 14 counts of Tampering with a Governmental Record” and that “Mr. Chambers was subsequently convicted on these felony charges.”

Chambers was convicted by a jury on the 14 state jail felonies and was issued a sentence by Judge Janet Leal in the 103rd state Judicial District Court, then appealed the conviction.

John Chambers
Courtesy: Facebook

Through the appeals process, the counts were ultimately reduced to misdemeanors. On Wednesday, the Court of Criminal appeals denied to hear Chambers’ petition seeking to re-litigate the issue in a secondary appeals process in which he hoped to be exonerated.

His attorney Chad Van Brunt stated he would be filing a petition for rehearing — a move that comes less than a month before early voting begins.

Garza claimed that “Instead of moving forward with his sentencing, he was granted a continuance of his case after the November general election,” which could arguably be misleading.

Eric Garza stands with his supporters while campaigning for Cameron County Sheriff Tuesday in a runoff election outside the polling location at Burns Elementary. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

However, had that petition not been filed, the case would have been sent to the 103rd for a sentencing hearing, the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office confirmed.

If ultimately convicted on the misdemeanor counts, Chambers could face jail time or probation.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com