WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - City Attorney Kinley Hegglund has released his report after Mayor Stephen Santellana made a formal complaint against Councilor Steven Jackson on July 31.
In the complaint, Mayor Santellana accused Councilor Jackson of making “false or misleading statements” to business owners in the downtown area. Jackson allegedly told multiple business owners the city was planning on forcing them to give up their property so the city could move forward with a development project, even after voters turned down a bond proposal in 2018. The mayor and other councilors deny that claim.
In the report, Hegglund said he spoke with 15 people at 13 downtown businesses and conducted nine interviews including receiving signed affidavits from most of the interviewees.
Seven residents Hegglund spoke to confirmed they spoke to Councilor Jackson in July of 2019.
The report states the interviewees made statements that Jackson made multiple comments including accusing the city council of wanting to take their property to build a new police and fire station. Interviewees also allegedly said Jackson told them the mayor was attempting to do this “under the table.” He also reportedly left his business card with multiple business owners.
Hegglund said in the report that based on his interviews with multiple councilors and staff, he found no evidence that supports the statements supposedly made by Jackson to the residents. He said he found no evidence the city planned on acquiring or taking downtown property for any purpose.
Paul Menzies told Hegglund the “only project for which the City is considering issuing Certificates of Obligation is for the conference center portion or the convention center hotel being planned for construction on City-owned property adjacent to MPEC.”
Also in the original complaint there was an accusation of possible illegal activity pertaining to Impersonating a Public Servant which is a third degree felony.
Hegglund’s report says he found no evidence that Jackson, or anyone he was with, committed this crime.
Jackson was contacted by Hegglund in an attempt to interview him for his report but he did not respond and did not speak with him before the report was completed. He has also retained legal representation and a letter was sent to Hegglund.
In that letter, Jackson’s attorney said it served as a “response to the juvenile and absurd complaint that has been forwarded to my office from yours.” She goes on to say her client (Jackson) believes the taking of downtown land is “still to be an eventual goal of many members of city government. He shared this concern (which is of course, political speech) with some citizens who comprise part of his constituency.”
Members of the council received the report and there will now be a public hearing at Tuesday’s council meeting to determine the next step in the process.
Stay with us for updates from this developing story.