Brownsville political candidates caught with illegal signage

Several political candidates in Brownsville were caught with illegal signs displayed across the city.

The political advertising was missing a state disclosure notice for their signs.

The notice should include this line at the bottom of signage: "it is a violation of state law to place this sign in the right-of-way of a highway."

Robert Lopez is a political newcomer.

So is his opponent "Letty" Perez-Garzoria for the Brownsville City Commissioner At Large "A" position.

Both candidates failed to display the disclosure notice on all of their signage.

"Oh, I didn't know that... Well I guess they [sign shop] forgot to add it... Because I mean they're the experts on making the signs... I'm just somebody who pays up," Perez-Garzoria said in a cell phone interview.

That may be her take on the issue, but her potential constituent, Javier Cepeda, saw it in a different way.

"If they can't follow the rules... Then what are we going to be electing into office," he asked?

Longtime City of Brownsville sign-maker Joe King, Jr. saw it differently too.

The owner of his namesake print shop off Minnesota Road warned candidates who may use ignorance of the law as an excuse, how it could backfire.

He also said it was important for candidates looking to use signage to seek out experienced print shops who have a better understanding of state rules.

"Trying to go cheaper... in the long run... it'll be more costly," King said.

The violation is a Class C misdemeanor.

It's punishable with a fine up to $500 per infraction and the removal of any signage in violation of the law.

Neither candidate caught without the required fine print planned to let it get as far as to be fined.

"Ignorance is no excuse," Lopez said. "If my political signs are not in compliance... they will be corrected immediately to comply with state law."

Voters will ultimately decide just how small of an oversight the missing line really is.Sec. 255.007. NOTICE REQUIREMENT ON POLITICAL ADVERTISING SIGNS. (a) The following notice must be written on each political advertising sign:"NOTICE: IT IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW (CHAPTERS 392 AND 393, TRANSPORTATION CODE), TO PLACE THIS SIGN IN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF A HIGHWAY."(b) A person commits an offense if the person:(1) knowingly enters into a contract to print or make a political advertising sign that does not contain the notice required by Subsection (a); or(2) instructs another person to place a political advertising sign that does not contain the notice required by Subsection (a).(c) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.(d) It is an exception to the application of Subsection (b) that the political advertising sign was printed or made before September 1, 1997, and complied with Subsection (a) as it existed immediately before that date.(e) In this section, "political advertising sign" means a written form of political advertising designed to be seen from a road but does not include a bumper sticker.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 288, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1991. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1349, Sec. 71, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.