Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Checking claims about “cocaine constable” and his “incarcerated” challenger

We confirmed that the photo to the left was Michael Cargill's Bell County mug shot. Adan Ballesteros inaccurately depicted Cargill in the illustration to the right.
We confirmed that the photo to the left was Michael Cargill's Bell County mug shot. Adan Ballesteros inaccurately depicted Cargill in the illustration to the right.

Voters in a Travis County Democratic primary runoff have heard dramatic competing claims about Precinct 2 Constable Adan Ballesteros, who seeks a second term, and his runoff challenger Michael Cargill.

We earlier probed and did not rate a claim that Ballesteros once accepted "cocaine blood money." A Department of Public Safety investigation concluded there was evidence that Ballesteros, who was dismissed from his post there, accepted thousands of dollars from a drug smuggler who was an informant. However, no criminal charges were filed against Ballesteros and a Texas Workforce Commission tribunal saw no preponderance of evidence to find Ballesteros guilty of criminal acts.

This week, we rated Mostly False a claim in a flier sent out by Ballesteros’ campaign that Cargill was arrested and incarcerated in Bell County. Officials in that Central Texas county told us records show Cargill was detained in jail overnight while resolving a bad check charge. Cargill told us a $20 check he wrote bounced after he closed a bank account in preparation for military duty abroad.

We suspect most people would interpret Ballesteros’ phrase "arrested and incarcerated" to mean Cargill served time as punishment for a crime -- which he did not. Nor did Cargill wear a garish orange jumpsuit that he is shown wearing on the front of Ballesteros’ flier.

The runoff occurs Tuesday. The victor faces Republican Toby Miller in November. (Wonder about other Travis County candidates? Travis County has posted a breakdown, with links to campaign websites.)