Bell returns illegal gift
From the McAllen Monitor:
In an election cycle where immigration is a hot-button issue, this is fodder for a potential attack ad.
The Chris Bell for Governor campaign has returned a collection of gemstones after learning the donor -- a Mexican national staying in McAllen -- is not a permanent resident of the United States, which makes the contribution illegal.
Max Garcia gave the campaign several stones including a ruby, a sapphire and an emerald, valued at $8,225 by a campaign-hired appraiser.
Bell listed the gift on the disclosure report filed last week with the state. That report included a false McAllen address for Garcia, which the campaign said Garcia furnished.
Since February when he offered the gemstones, Garcia told campaign workers in the course of conversation that he had the legal status necessary to give the gift, said Jason Stanford, spokesman for the Bell campaign.
But what Stanford called several "red flags" about the gift led to a personal phone conversation between Bell and Garcia this week, during which Garcia told the Democratic candidate he was in the United States on a tourist visa, Stanford said.
"He had told us two different stories about whether or not he had the legal status to give us those gemstones, and once we got the second story we decided to give those back," Stanford said.
Garcia confirmed on Wednesday he is staying in McAllen on a tourist visa and said he never lied about his legal status. He thinks the campaign assumed he was allowed to give the gift, he said.
On the other hand, who wants to attack Chris Bell right now? And who will in the future? Perry is unlikely to use this unless things look awfully bleak for him. Strayhorn and Friedman will probably keep training their fire on Perry. Unless Strayhorn decides to fire back as a warning since Bell has been attacking her.
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