Make the right choice, even when the law upholds the wrong choice

Published 12:07 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

By Bobby Tingle


The ‘rule of law’ is a phrase often used in the context of elected and appointed officials as they fulfill their duties. When this rule is followed decisions are made within the boundaries established by the body of laws put in place by a governing body or group.

In the State of Texas our state legislature has determined those laws, and therefore those boundaries, as they have met every two years since we became a state. Churches, youth sports leagues and homeowners associations adopt by-laws individual members adhere to.

The boundaries established provide security and predictability necessary for functioning within these groups.

Nations, states, counties and municipalities must have laws in place and government officials must govern within established boundaries.

Sometimes unintended consequences occur when operating within those boundaries.

Such is the case in our current election in Orange County.

Candidates on the current ballot followed the rule of law in order to be placed on the ballot. Each candidate submitted their application and fee to their respective party chairman. The county chairman and committee of each party reviewed, processed and authenticated each candidate’s eligibility. As written, based on known facts, both the Republican and Democrat party county organizations followed the rule of law in this process.

There is absolutely no problem there.

But consider this timeline. The filing deadline to qualify to be on the ballot was December 11, 2017. The election will be held March 6, 2018.

Out of town and military ballots must be mailed 45 days prior to the election to comply with federal law. In this case, the ballots were mailed on January 20, 2017. These dates are set in stone and known well in advance of an election. These deadlines impose the security and stability necessary for orderly elections to occur.

In order to qualify to be on the ballot, a candidate must submit and application and pay a fee.

Section 141.034 of the State of Texas Election Code places limits on challenging an application. After ballots are mailed, a candidates application cannot be challenged based on ‘form, content and procedure’ according to the election code noted.

The filing fee to run for County Judge is $750.

Each of the four candidates on the current ballot submitted their fee.

Their respective parties authenticated their application. But at least one of those candidates submitted a check for the filing fee, which was returned for insufficient funds.

According to state law a ‘bounced’ check falls into the category of ‘form, content and procedure’.

Orange County Democrat Party Chairman John Baker issued a press release January 24, 2018 declaring Donald Glenn Brown’s application to be a candidate invalid. According to the release, Brown submitted a check to pay his filing fee, which was returned, for ‘non-sufficient funds’. Baker relied on “Texas Election Code 172.012(b-2) which specifically states a candidate’s application is invalid when their filing fee check is returned due to insufficient funds.

But Baker was too late.

The deadline for taking this action was four days prior.

At best this situation indicates incompetence.

At worst it indicates an orchestrated effort to avoid payment of the filing fee required when applying for a place on the ballot.

Brown, it seems, will win the Democrat nomination to be on the ballot in November in hopes voters will elect him Orange County Judge.

According to the rule of law, he is a valid candidate. Unless other grounds for invalidation are discovered and acted on he is eligible to be elected our next County Judge.

What remains are two options.

Brown can and should drop out of the race. The cloud of suspicion raised by the circumstances and timeline cannot benefit the Democrat party in Orange County. If he persists then voters must respond by voting for the Republican, regardless of their party affiliation.

Regardless Orange County Democrats need to address the issues leading to this unfortunate outcome.

Bobby Tingle is publisher of The Orange Leader.   You can reach him at