ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — Williamson County Democrats are raising concerns about a newly-formed, Democratic group’s endorsements with early voting now underway.
The Rattan Creek Democratic Club launched a website in October — a blog post said the group was formed last summer — with the goal of “urging people to vote a straight Democratic ticket.”
The group recently began distributing endorsement cards in the Rattan Creek neighborhood which caught several people connected to established Democratic groups off guard. While the group endorsed Democrats in well-known partisan races, like Joe Biden for president and MJ Hegar for U.S. Senate, each of the candidates endorsed in non-partisan races has conservative backgrounds, according to Williamson County Democratic leaders.
KXAN contacted an email listed on the Rattan Creek Democratic Club website and will update this story when it receives a response.
Ramon Telles Jr., vice president of the Williamson County Young Democrats and a resident of the Rattan Creek neighborhood, had never heard of the Rattan Creek Democratic Club before this week.
“It’s highly unlikely that this group had existed and none of us would be aware of it,” Telles said.
Among the endorsements by the Rattan Creek Democratic Club is Lacey Mase for Round Rock School Board. Mase is a top official in embattled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office who recently signed on to a letter accusing Paxton of misuse of office.
“I have no idea what this group is or who is behind it,” Mase told KXAN. “I haven’t been notified by any organization that I received an endorsement during the course of my campaign.”
On its website, the Rattan Creek Democratic Club said: “Our endorsement reflects who we believe the best candidate and does not mean they are endorsed by the overall Democratic Party itself or any of its auxiliaries.”
Williamson County Democratic Party Chair Kim Gibly sees this as an attempt to confuse or misinform voters.
Texas law requires political advertisements to disclose who paid for the materials on the face of the advertisement. Political advertisements that cost less than $500 to print and distribute are exempt from disclosure rules.
On the reverse side of the endorsement card, it says that the flier was paid for by the Rattan Creek Democratic Club at a cost less than $500.
“(On) the county’s party slate card, there’s information if you have a question you can track us down and we’ll be glad to try to answer your questions. That other flyer, there’s nothing like that,” Gibly told KXAN. “Maybe they’re busy or maybe they don’t exist.”
Cornell Woolridge, a candidate for Round Rock School Board, is a vocal Democrat who lists his party affiliation on campaign materials. He was not endorsed by the Rattan Creek Democratic Club but is more concerned with the confusion the endorsement card is causing.
“Presidential election is one thing, but if we can’t even trust information that’s coming out of local school board elections, what can we trust?” he said.
The Williamson County Democratic Party is exploring its options, which may include a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission.