AUSTIN (KXAN) –  Council Member Mackenzie Kelly and Linda Guerrero – defeated City Council District 9 candidate – filed criminal complaints yesterday against outgoing Austin Mayor Steve Adler, two days before his final day in office. 

Kelly and Guerrero said when Adler endorsed a City Council candidate on ATXN, the City of Austin government access channel, he criminally violated Texas Election Code.

 On Dec. 1., in a press conference in front of City Hall, Adler – who lives in District 9 –  announced his support for Zo Qadri, a candidate running against Guerrero for District 9’s Council Council seat. Qadri went on to win in the run-off election on Dec. 14. 

“I’m voting for Zo because I think he is smart, he is knowledgable and focused on the issues that I think are most important right now,” Adler said on ATXN at the time. 

Kelly and Guerrero said in their complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission that by using ATXN to endorse a candidate, he violated a Texas election code, which is a class A misdemeanor and punishable by up to a year of jail time. 

“The endorsement by the mayor is an exercise of free speech, he had every right in the world to do that,” said Bill Aleshire, the attorney representing Kelly and Guerrero. “ (But) he had done it with (ATXN)… It’s still posted on the city’s website,”  he continued. “It’s blatant electioneering. It’s blatant political advertising,” Aleshire said. 

“I don’t want to see Steve Adler in jail. I just don’t want this to be a precedent that other people look at what he did and think they can get away with it,” he continued.  “It is an important principle in law that we don’t have public funds politicized.”

Further, Aleshire and his team said that Adler violated an additional code by endorsing a candidate within 100 feet of a polling place. Aleshire submitted this supplemental complaint to Delia Garza, the Travis County attorney. 

“You can tell from the video, that appears pretty clearly, that he’s within 100 feet of the front door of the city hall that was being used as the polling place,” Aleshire said.  

KXAN is awaiting a reply from Mayor Adler and will update this story once we hear back.