KBest News has submitted multiple Open Records Requests to the City of Big Spring, Texas Rangers/DPS, and the Texas Attorney General. “Just the Facts” is a series of news reports resulting from months of fact-checking, research, and Open Records Requests made by KBest News to address the issues and questions that have arisen in the Big Spring city government regarding upcoming elections and requests for recall.
Just the Facts - Part 2: CONTROVERSY
On the road towards the Recall Election for three Big Spring City Councilmembers - Camilla Strande, District 5; Jim DePauw, District 6; and Mayor Shannon Thomason on November 3rd (Early Voting is October 13, - October 30, 2020.), there have been a few controversies that have arisen along the way:
JULY 29, 2020
The affidavit requesting recall petitions for Mayor Thomason was initiated by Linda Burchett. Her affidavit cited dereliction of duty, threatening city personnel, and cussing at city personnel. She also stated that Thomason had obstructed councilmembers from seeking advice from the City Attorney during council meetings.
(Photo of the official affidavit on file with the City of Big Spring that requests a recall petition, submitted by Linda Burchett. In order to enlarge images, right click on image and choose "Open image in new tab".)
AUGUST 12, 2020
The day before the Big Spring City Council ordered a special election to be held on November 3, 2020, for the purpose of voting for or against the recall of Mayor Thomason, 1 he appeared in a NewsWest 9 interview with reporter Tatum Guinn. In the interview, Thomason spoke on the possibility of the recall affidavit filed by Linda Burchett being voided, and that it potentially broke the law. 2
According to Guinn, in the August 12, 2020 interview, Thomason advised that the proper procedure for the petition process was never followed by the City Secretary's office because Burchett modified the affidavit after it had already been notarized.
In his interview, Thomason stated, “When Ms. Burchett came, submitted her statement, it wasn’t really an affidavit that she stated, uh, when she submitted her statement and filled out this affidavit form. She was told by the Assistant City Secretary that it would take some time to prepare the petition forms, ‘cause they wanted 32 petitions, 5 pages each – so 160 pages, so it was going to take a little time, uh, and they have to hand number those and sign each one, so on and so forth. So Ms. Burchett left with a copy of the affidavit and took this copy of the affidavit to the Big Spring Herald after it had been notarized and after it had been signed by the City Secretary.”
Guinn also stated in her news report that Thomason claimed he was told by the City Secretary that Burchett made the changes to the document when she returned to City Hall.
(Photo: Copy of the affidavit published by the Big Spring Herald. Photo of the official affidavit on file with the City of Big Spring is shown above under the date of July 29, 2020.)
According to Guinn, Thomason was quoted as saying, “Those petitions were issued on an invalid affidavit. This document is worthless and this is the copy that's in the city's file right now."
Guinn also reported that Mayor Thomason believed this qualified as tampering with a government document, and that he filed a complaint with the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
Additionally, Guinn’s news report stated that Thomason was quoted as saying, “I’m just doing my job. Granted, it’s happening to me, but I’d fight this fight for anybody. People, no matter who you are, must follow the rules.”
Since these events, KBest News filed a Public Information Request with the Texas Rangers/DPS requesting information on an investigation request made by Thomason concerning his allegation against Burchett for allegedly tampering with a government document. On August 21, 2020, Brian Sears, Assistant General Counsel with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Office of the General Counsel, responded to our request, stating:
“The Department has conducted a good faith search for any and all information related to your request and, based on the information provided, has not been able to locate any responsive records.”
KBest News will report more information tomorrow in the next installment of “Just the Facts.”
1 - “Special Meeting of the Big Spring City Council Recap, 08/13/2020”, published 08/14/2020, https://kbestmedia.com/kbest-station-updates/524070
2 - “Big Spring mayor files complaint with Texas Rangers on petition to recall his seat,” published by NewsWest 9 on 08/12/2020, written by Tatum Guinn, https://www.newswest9.com/article/news/local/big-spring-mayor-petition-for-recall/513-c24604a7-8cdb-47dc-8b1e-b3447a56d1d2?fbclid=IwAR1gHmHBOVYOO0iXn_Mg2PCJRE5tm2gQlfXnBk8u4JXr3HSPTPBp1lLBszY