Food fight over alleged electioneering in Shelby Co DA's race - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Food fight over alleged electioneering in Shelby Co DA's race

CENTER, TX (KTRE) -

Shelby County appointed district attorney Kenneth Florence said he saw it himself at the poultry festival held earlier this month, food going out in Stephen Shires campaign bags from the Shelby County Advocacy Center food booth.

"I approached the booth and I witnessed with my own two eyes Mr. Shires doing this," said Florence, the Republican candidate.

Florence calls it electioneering, something the former IRS agent says is against IRS code for non profits and board members, which includes himself and Stephen Shires.

"They said they had run out of bags to hand out their food in and they had been doing it for only a few minutes. And board members told me, no it was all three days," said Florence.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are known to have different interpretations of a law or a code. And this debate is no different.

"I just want to say from a candidate's perspective that I don't believe that anything has ever gone on that was improper," said Stephen Shires, the Democratic candidate. Shires says no more saying, "It's much ado about nothing".

However, Florence submitted a board resignation letter. He did so privately, he thought. The letter was leaked to the media. By whom no one knows. That's when Florence agreed to address what's now become a campaign issue.

"The rumor mill has gotten pretty strong that I am preparing to shut down the Children's Advocacy Center and have all the employees arrested. And my response to that, that's simply not true," said Florence.

As if that's not enough another food fight came up at a downtown center restaurant. Florence says he and his wife walked in and saw Shires, board members and Advocacy Center staff and some of their family members having what appeared to be a luncheon meeting.

"I said it was secretly planned because I wasn't invited to it," said Florence, with a smile. 

Florence developed a concern,"that maybe Advocacy Center monies were being used to pay for this."

Florence issued a Grand Jury subpoena for bank and payroll records. He dropped the matter when he learned shortly afterwards non profit money wasn't used.

But it doesn't stop there. In September Florence filed a motion citing a potential conflict of interest by Shires and his representation of an accused child molester. Shires got off the case.

There is agreement on one matter by both men.

"The Children's Advocacy Center, it's a good program. It does wonderful things," said Florence.

"It's important to me that everybody out there understand that the Advocacy Center is much more important than politics," said Shires.

The executive director of the Shelby County Children's Advocacy Center, Julia Crelia declined an interview. We also left a phone message for the board president.

It's uncertain at this time if the IRS will get involved in the alleged violations.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.

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