El Paso Council Denies Former Mayor Cook’s Request To Pay 700K Legal Bill from Election Suit

Former El Paso Mayor John Cook sued a local church after it permitted the use of its facilities in a petition-signing effort related to a recall effort against him (alleging the use of the church’s facilities to be an illegal corporate contribution under Texas law).  The case is still being litigated on appeal (and raises very important issues of the constitutionality of the contribution ban in the context of a ballot measure (hint-it is not constitutional), and of the authority of a court to overturn an election result where a measure supporter is found to have made an illegal contribution).  But this story is about the city rejecting his request that taxpayers pay his legal bills:

Former Mayor John Cook’s claim that the city should pay his $550,000 legal bill that stemmed from fighting a recall effort was unanimously denied by the City Council on Tuesday.

In a prepared statement, the city said that Cook initiated a suit tied to his recall as an individual and not an elected official, and that city had not approved the litigation.

Maybe Cook, who just announced a run for the Democratic nomination for Land Commissioner in 2014 (the same race in which George P. Bush is seeking the Republican nomination), wants the taxpayers to fund his recall litigation so that he can preserve his campaign funds for the 2014 race.

The story also cites a dispute as to whether the recall is properly considered an initiative or a referendum.