According to Representative Jonathan Stickland's primary challenger, Andy Cargile, Stickland may have double dipped into both his legislative and campaign accounts for gas expenses on several trips into his district. What's more, Stickland may have charged the state for a trip into the district that never even took place, Dallas News reports.
The conservative Stickland, named Rookie of the Year by the Young Conservatives of Texas – of affirmative action bake sale and “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” fame – has not had an easy time with Cargile's campaign. Last month, Stickland got into trouble for posting the home address of a Cargile supporter on his twitter and Facebook page. In response to this newest information, a consultant for Stickland's campaign said, “Andy Cargile's campaign can't read a credit card statement.”
More on anti-government spending Stickland's use of state money below the jump.The Dallas News found multiple instances where gas charges to Stickland's campaign overlap with charges to the legislature for travel to the district. On three separate occasions, Stickland filed travel expenses of $198.70 for a round trip to his district in Bedford, and then charged his campaign account for gas expenses from the same, often short, time frame.
On a one-day trip to and from the district on July 29th, Stickland charged $86 in gas expenses to his campaign account on top of his $198.70 claim to the legislature. He then claimed another round trip to the district from July 30-31, during which time he charged his campaign for $142.78 in gas expenses.
While legislators are allowed to be reimbursed for travel to and from the district while doing legislative business and candidates are allowed to be reimbursed by campaign funds when traveling on the campaign trail, it is illegal to be reimbursed twice from the two different sources for the same activity. Perhaps Stickland managed to do not only legislative but also campaign-related activities in a one-day round trip that included excessive driving.
In another, possibly more damning instance, Stickland claimed travel expenses from the House for district business from June 17th-19th. His finance reports show charges for dinner at Trudy's in Austin on June 18th, when he was supposed to be in his district. He also conducted an interview on the 18th where he was identified as being in Austin. A Cargile strategist said, “It reeks of hypocrisy for a candidate to talk about protecting taxpayers and then turn around and bill them for a trip that he did not take.”
Whether Stickland double-dipped or not, these accusations come at a critical time when he must maintain his image as the true conservative in his race. The Cargile campaign could not have chosen a better example of Stickland not sticking to his promises than questions about whether the representative – whose positions on gay rights and labor unions came into question earlier in the race – misused state funds. The Stickland campaign denies any wrongdoing.