January 03, 2006
Filing news: Fort Bend foulup


When the dust settled after Monday's 6 p.m. filing deadline, seven Fort Bend County Democrats and 32 Republicans had filed for local races.

Incumbent Fort Bend County District Clerk Glory Hopkins was not among them.

Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairman Eric Thode said Monday evening he hadn't seen Hopkins' filing papers. Later Monday night, he said he was told they were addressed incorrectly and never reached him. "It's not a valid filing," he concluded.

"I do not physically have it on my person," Thode said. "I have been told it was mailed to my work office certified upon receipt on the 27th of December. The return receipt is not back, and I am not in possession of the filing."


[Andy Meyers, Fort Bend County Commissioner for Precinct 3] said Hopkins told him that she was directed by Thode to mail her filing papers to his work office. She sent them via certified mail and also faxed them. Meyers said Hopkins told him she received confirmation at Thode's workplace that the fax had gone through.

Thode said he was at his office Friday for the "first mail run" and Hopkins' filing papers did not show up. He said there may have been a second mail run on Friday, and possibly a run on Saturday morning.

Thode said he was trying to make time to get to his office Monday night to check on Hopkins' papers. Later Monday night, he said he was on the way to the office when he received a call from Hopkins' daughter.

"The filing papers were returned to them as undeliverable," Thode said he was told. "The wrong zip code was on the envelope, and it was returned to them on the 29th."

Since Hopkins was on vacation, she apparently didn't realize the filing papers had been returned.

Thode intends to call the Texas Secretary of State's office to see if Hopkins can be permitted to run, but "I'm pretty confident I know the answer to that question," he said. "It's not a valid filing. That's fairly clear under the Texas Election Code."

Screwups happen. The question of whether or not this one is fatal is now up to a court to decide.

Hopkins said Tuesday afternoon her attorney will file a writ of mandamus – a directive by a court of law – with the court of appeals in Harris County. The writ will direct Fort Bend Republican Party Chairman Eric Thode to place Hopkins' name on the ballot.


Richmond attorney Libby King, Hopkins' daughter and campaign treasurer, said her mother's filing fee and application were sent by certified mail on Dec. 27 to a work address Thode provided in a Dec. 5 email sent to numerous candidates and campaigns. King said she has verified with another person who received the email that the address Thode provided included the incorrect zip code for his office.


"It's a horrible tragedy," Thode said. "They made a good-faith effort to get the filing papers in on time. If the court will direct that they be the ballot, that would be great."

Ironically, King said her mother faxed a copy of her filing papers and check to Thode's office on Dec. 27, and got confirmation that her fax had been received.

King also said her mother and Thode had lunch earlier in the month, and Hopkins tried to give Thode her filing fee. However, King said, Thode declined to accept it and said he needed the check and filing application to be mailed together to his office.

Thode said he sent "multiple emails" to known candidates and campaigns, but also acknowledged sending one out to precinct chairs that contained the incorrect zip code. "Apparently they went by that one," he said.

Anyone want to take a guess as to how the court may rule? If it's black-letter law, as Thode seems to imply, then good faith or lack thereof shouldn't matter. I wonder if anyone will oppose this writ, or is prepared to appeal if the court grants it. I don't have any particular interest in the outcome, I'm just curious. The first article indicates that there's another Republican as well as a Democrat vying for this office, so it's not like someone else would win it by default if Glory Hopkins is kept off the ballot. Still, all things being equal, I think the voters are better served by having all qualified candidates available to them. It's just a matter of whether or not the court buys the argument that she's qualified, given the paperwork snafu.

The text of Thode's email is here. Perhaps the fact that the same ZIP code was given for both a Houston and a Sugar Land address should have raised suspicions, but it's always easier to spot that sort of thing when someone points it out to you. We'll see what the judges say.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 03, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack