New allegations regarding spring alcohol election

By Taylor Hemness - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - There are new allegations regarding this past spring's bitterly contested alcohol election in Smith County's Precinct 4. That election ended in a tie, keeping the precinct dry. Now, supporters of the vote are saying alcohol sellers outside the county played a part in the final outcome.

Before the election, people on both sides thought that outside alcohol sellers would try to get involved, hoping to keep alcohol sales out of Smith County. Back in March, "Keep Precinct 4 Dry" leader Tony Watson said they would not be taking any campaign money from those liquor stores. But, now, Andy Osborn with the Smith County Citizens for Economic Growth says they've uncovered a finance report from a group called "East Texans United," alleging thousands of dollars were contributed from groups opposing alcohol elections in Smith, Gregg and Cherokee County. And, most of that money came from liquor stores. We asked Watson about this, and he says he's never heard of the group.

"We held to exactly what we said we were going to do," said Watson. "I never got contacted by any known political action group that I'm aware of. Certainly didn't get offered any funds."

"Well, in the future, when we do another campaign like this, when we ask the question, 'Are y'all receiving any outside alcohol-related money,' we would like, if they are, to at least admit to it," said Osborn.

Don Talley out of Longview said East Texans United did raise $35,000 to fight the election in Winona. But, he says he was told by a consultant that the church was doing such a good job raising money, that he didn't need to help. He says most of that money is still in the bank in case the issue goes to the ballot again.

Tyler businessman Anwar Khalifa, with Keep Precinct 4 Dry said the group won't take any money from liquor stores the next time around either.

©2009 KLTV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.