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Criminal complaints filed against Mayor Adler during his final days in office

Haya Panjwani
Austin Mayor Steve Adler endorses Zohaib "Zo" Qadri for District 9 and Jose Valasquez for District 3 in the runoff elections, outside City Hall on Dec. 3.

Criminal complaints were filed against Mayor Steve Adler late Wednesday for his actions during the December runoff elections.

Austin City Council Member Mackenzie Kelly and former District 9 candidate Linda Guerrero claim he used city resources — the ATXN video platform — when he held a press conference outside City Hall to announce his endorsements for candidates Zohaib "Zo" Qadri and Jose Velasquez for City Council. Guerrero lost the race to Qadri.

Austin-based attorney Bill Aleshire is representing Kelly and Guerrero. He told KUT that if Adler’s actions go unacknowledged, it could set a precedent for future city leaders.

"I think the danger is that if you've got a politician arrogant enough to go do something like this that ... someone else may say, 'Well, Adler got away with it, let's see how far we can go in the future,'" Aleshire said. "I don't care. Friend or foe, Democrat or Republican, Steve Adler or, you know, Donald Trump. I don't care who it is. ... Public resources ought to be neutral."

Aleshire said a separate complaint was filed against Adler for engaging in campaign-related activities fewer than 100 feet from a polling center — City Hall.

The complaints were filed with Travis County Attorney Delia Garza, City Attorney Anne Morgan and the Texas Ethics Commission.

Aleshire, who spoke on behalf of Kelly, said it's important to her to “preserve the politically neutral use of public resources.”

Aleshire also said he isn't looking to put Adler behind bars; he just wants him to be held accountable.

“I hope he admits that he made a mistake and then works out some kind of reasonable acceptance of criminal responsibility for it so that it establishes the right kind of precedent for the future,” Aleshire said. “That's really the focus. It's not to punish him. I don't see him in jail."

Adler did not respond to KUT’s request for comment by deadline. He leaves the office on Friday when Kirk Watson will be sworn in as mayor.

This is a developing story.

Haya Panjwani is a general assignment reporter, with a focus on Travis County. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @hayapanjw.
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