TX-HD-47: Castano Sued For Not Paying His Debts
In my state house rankings, I've identified HD-47 as the single most vulnerable Republican house seat. (You'll have to take my word that it isn't just because it's my district and I want people to pay attention to it.) With a candidate as flawed as Castano seems to be, I think Democrats have an even better shot. That is, if the Democrats aren't tearing themselves up in their own debates, which I haven't been paying attention to for a little while.
Alex Castano, a Republican House candidate in southwestern Travis County, amassed more than $35,000 in credit card debt before three credit card companies took him to court.
Castano, 34, owner of a commercial real estate firm, has touted "state budget discipline" as one of his campaign issues in the District 47 race.Citibank N.A., Bank of America N.A. and Seneca Financial Corp. each sued Castano starting in 2004, Travis County court documents show. Judges ordered Castano to pay the overdue balances plus several thousand dollars in court costs and other fees.
I somehow brought myself to actually listen to a debate between Castano and Bill Welch, the other Republican candidate in the April 11 runoff. Castano basically accused Welch of alerting the Statesman to Castano's skeleton-closet debt issues. Welch denied that his campaign had anything to do with it.
About a third of the way into the debate, Castano actually got choked up. Was he crying? It sounded like it. There's no video though, as far as I know, so I doubt it can become a liability for him. Unlike being sued for not paying your debts.
Oh and get this: according to Bill Welch in the debate, Castano actually lent his own campaign $30,000 at the beginning of the race. Welch asked why Castano didn't pay off his debts instead. Castano didn't really answer that. He probably will need to. Castano did say he has a secret plan to pay off his debts that he will not divulge. That's encouraging, isn't it?
Just for fun, I transcribed a bit from the debate, which as far as I can tell is only around in audio format. Mostly I liked what Welch had to say about this at the beginning, scolding Castano for not disclosing this from the beginning, and I kind of just kept transcribing. Castano's answer seems to be that he decided not to tell us about his credit debt problems because we didn't need to discuss and focus on it. Thanks for only thinking of us, Alex! Here's the partial transcript I did:
Welch: I like Alex and I think Alex has been very very good and forthcoming and willing to talk about a lot of things that are very personal. I think it's very very troubling that when you have the type of financial problems that you had, and you keep that to yourself, you jeopardize the Republican party's ability to hold this seat in November, because I promise you, had the Statesman not discovered this and put it out for people to know, then you would have got killed by it in November by the Democrats, because I promise you they know this stuff, and we cannot afford, we cannot risk, to lose another Republican seat in Travis County.
Selby: So what is your question? You've got to have a question...
Welch: So my question is, why weren't you forthcoming in your personal financial problem earlier on, and do you have others? Are there others that are going to fall on your head in the next few months as.. should you win this election, that will truly lose us this seat it's too valuable, too important a seat for us to risk losing in November and Alex, they're going to go after you and I'm not...
Castano: The reality is, I'm working to pay off the debt. And I think it would work to my advantage to be honest with you, because I am a working man, I'm trying to provide for my family, I'm trying to provide for my business, and people understand that sometimes you get into hard situations and you basically work hard to pay off the debt. So I don't think it's a big issue. I think most, I mean this morning, I already received emails and phone calls of people, Bill, who said they didn't vote in the primary, but they're going to vote for me now because you went after me in providing this material to the Statesman and whoever else you provided it to, so I think it's an issue that I've shown fiscal responsibility, I'm working to pay off the debt and I don't think it will be a big issue.
Selby: And just to make sure to give you a chance to answer his question. His question was why didn't you in some way share this information earlier yourself, just announce, you know, by the way folks, I'm a regular Joe, I've had some credit problems too.
Castano: Well, I mean I'm working to pay off my debt. I mean Bill hasn't discolsed all of his financial background. I mean it's just none of this..
Welch: Yes. Yes I have.
Castano: Well I mean, Bill, you know what I'm saying, we don't go through and say ok what's Bill's financial statement and Rich's, and...
(talking over each other)
Selby: .. at some point that this wasn't a relevant issue. You decided this wasn't something that people needed to know about. In your campaign at least.
Castano: I didn't think that it was something that right now we needed to discuss and focus on.
Welch: I need to address this. My financial report is with the Texas Ethics Commission and it is fully filled out. Alex did not disclose this on his Texas Ethics Commission report. That is one thing that I do know because I've seen the report and there is nothing on it. It's just "not applicable", "not applicable", "not applicable"..
Selby: I'll give you a chance to answer that and we've got to get out of here or our webmaster will kick me. Ok, go.
Castano: The question was.. it said "secure debt". This is unsecured debt, so it's not..
Selby: You're saying it's not required by law to put that on the...
Castano: Right. It's unsecured. It's debt that I'm working to pay off.
The Republican candidates in HD-47 are Alex Castano and Bill Welch.
The Democratic candidates in HD-47 are Valinda Bolton and Jason Earle.
The primary runoffs are April 11. Early voting begins April 3.