Grand Prairie, TX – Campaign mailers expressing support for Grand Prairie city council candidate David Espinosa and Grand Prairie ISD school board candidates Gloria Carrillo and Bryan Parra have been connected to “outside money,” raising concerns about the transparency and integrity of the upcoming May 6 general election.
Numerous Grand Prairie residents received the mailers in their mailboxes on Friday, featuring the three candidates as a united “slate” under the banner of “Grand Prairie Leaders.” The mailers were funded by the “New American PAC,” a political action committee (PAC) that, according to its critics, is financed by “outside money.”
“Outside money” refers to funds utilized in political campaigns that are not disclosed to the public. This can happen when a person or organization contributes to a political campaign or advocacy group through a nonprofit organization that is not obligated to reveal its donors. This enables the source of the money to remain concealed from the public, thus the term “outside money.” Outside money can be employed to influence elections, shape public opinion, and support issue advocacy without transparency.
The address listed for the New American PAC is the same address associated with the law office of Personal Injury Attorney Domingo Garcia. Garcia has previously donated to Espinosa’s campaigns, although Espinosa did not list the address of his contributors in his 2015 campaign finance reports.
Garcia could not be immediately reached for comment, but we left a voicemail with his secretary requesting answers to several questions we have about the New American PAC’s mission, goals, funding sources, and response to criticisms about outside money’s influence on elections.
Gloria Carrillo and Bryan Parra did not answer or return our calls requesting a statement about the mailers. David Espinosa asked us to call him back in an hour, but he subsequently left our calls unanswered.
In contrast, Patty Harris, another candidate for Grand Prairie ISD school board, commented that she has not received any contributions and has campaigned but was self-funded. She expressed concerns about the impact of outside money on local elections and emphasized the importance of transparency in the electoral process.
Espinosa has previously stated during several candidate forums that he was running on a platform of transparency, but his lack of response to inquiries about the recent mailer raises questions about his commitment to that ideal. Do the residents of Grand Prairie deserve to know who is funding and influencing their local elections? The answers to that question, and others about the role of outside money in this election, remain elusive as the May 6 general election approaches.
With early voting starting April 24th, it remains to be seen whether the controversy surrounding the New American PAC will significantly impact the outcome of the election. Some residents may be swayed by the mailers and choose to vote for the candidates endorsed by the PAC, while others may be deterred by the lack of transparency in their campaigns.
As the story unfolds, Grand Prairie News will continue to investigate the role of outside money in local elections and will update readers on any new developments regarding the New American PAC or the candidates it supports.