Ethics commission fines Angelina Co. JP for election violation

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The Texas Ethics Commission has fined an Angelina County justice of the peace $750 for misrepresenting herself as a "full-time judge" in a newspaper advertisement and other means of communication while running for the office she had not yet held.

"After reading it, no it's not a surprise," said Bradley Stringer, a former colleague of Grubbs.

Stringer not only worked with Grubbs, but ran against her in the 2014 election. He says Grubbs had deviated from her campaign slogan "Character Matters" more than once.

The Texas Ethics Commission met on Feb. 12 to address the allegations. One of the allegations was that on December of 2013, Pat Grubbs circulated push cards, posted comments on her Facebook page and paid for campaign communications in a Huntington newspaper in which she referred to herself as a "full time judge." Another alleged she used the state seal of Texas on her Facebook page.

In response to the complaint, Grubbs swore she did not try to mislead the voters and submitted a newspaper article published in the Lufkin News on Oct. 19, 2014, that explained the context with the following quote:

"...having worked for the justice of the peace office for over 16 years, working under four judges, side by side with the other JPs and clerks in other precincts, I am very qualified and very aware of the daily scheduling. I would be a full-time judge – Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. ..."

The ethics summary states Grubbs included a copy of the campaign communication she submitted to the Huntington Herald, alleging the newspaper staff changed the original formatting of her communication, making it appear she was stating she currently holds a judicial position and has held a judicial position for many years. She did not address the state seal in her response.

"I believe that this that came out only scratches the surface," said Stringer.

The ethics commission found Grubbs violated election code by referring to her many years of experience and used the title "Judge." The summary states the modification of her layout by newspaper staff did not create the misleading language.

The commission also found Grubbs was wrong in placing the Secretary of State seal on her Facebook page.

According to the summary, Grubbs consented to the agreed resolution without admitting or denying anything for the purpose of resolving the complaint.

Grubbs won the Pct. 3 office in November over the incumbent, Bradley Stringer, who ran as a write-in candidate.

Copyright 2015 KTRE. All rights reserved.