Zeke MacCormack - Express-News
The Democrat hoping to replace him, Hunter Schuehle, has accused Bernsen of wrongdoing in attacks that also are intended to soil Kim Havel, Bernsen's assistant, who's the Republican contender.
“She's his selected county attorney, so I guess I'm running against both of them,” said Schuehle, who served as Medina County attorney for 12 years, leaving office in 1988. He's been on the Edwards Aquifer Authority board for 10 years.
Schuehle's fliers refer to “secret” payments from “secret bank accounts,” paid “without commissioners court approval, without being in the approved county budget, nor being deposited in the county treasurer's account as required by law.”
“No elected officials should have their own piggy bank,” said Schuehle, 61.
He also pays a second worker a stipend from the fund, and their tax withholdings.
“If the boy could speak a word of truth, it would help,” Bernsen, 74, said of Schuehle.
The money is spent at the sole discretion of the county attorney, he said, and need not be reflected in the county budget, approved by commissioners court, nor deposited with the county treasurer.
But Medina County Judge Jim Barden said he's known of the fund activity since taking office in 2003. “I guess, if you don't know about it, it's secret,” he said. “It's not hidden.”
“There's nothing criminal or secret,” Brown said, noting the county auditor reviews the account.
Schuehle sees party loyalty in the dismissive reaction to his concerns by Brown, Barden and other Republicans.
But Bernsen said he closed the account because Schuehle posted on his campaign Web site copies of checks paid to Havel, compromising its safety.
“He's besmirching my record as county attorney and using false information against Kim Havel, who has nothing to do with where accounts go or how much supplements she'll get,” he said of Schuehle.
If elected, his flier says, he'll recover the salary supplements, but won't say how.
Havel said, “It's ridiculous that he thinks he could retrieve money that's in a paycheck.”
Havel said some voters have told her the ads convinced them to back her.
“They don't like dirty campaigning,” she said.