On January 4, 2022 the Tampa Bay Times published an article about Clearwater City Council candidate Lina Teixeira in which concerning conflict of interest questions were raised.
While in the midst of her campaign for an elected office, Teixeira organized an art exhibit and received “…a $6,000 grant from the Downtown Development Board, with $4,000 going to the eight artists and the remaining $2,000 going to her.”
It must be noted that 4 of the 7 members of the Downtown Development Board are members of Scientology. Interestingly the Board voted 4-2 to approve Teixeira’s grant.
It is no secret that Paris Morfopoulos and the other Scientologists on the DDB do not want Aaron Smith-Levin elected to the City Council seat. Unlike Smith-Levin, Teixeira has shown herself to be a sympathetic accomplice to Scientology and would be far preferred by COS on the City Council.
Receiving this grant money along with Teixeira’s desire to display her exhibits on various City owned properties created ethical, if not legal, questions about appearances of an “in-kind” contribution to her campaign. Clearwater City Manager Jon Jennings is quoted as saying he “…disagrees with a grant going to a City Council candidate during an election.”
Teixeira is well aware of the conflict and concerns her actions raised. She ultimately changed venues for her exhibits stating “…she understood city staff’s concerns and agreed to change the locations ‘to avoid any appearance of any conflict.’”
Lina Teixeira may have understood the concerns, however she was obviously not bothered by them. Her desire to avoid any appearance of conflict was short lived.
The day after the Tampa Bay Times article ran Teixeira took to her Facebook political page to announce running her campaign ads on Clearwater’s Jolley Trolley.
Jolley Trolley is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Lina Teixeira seems to have a penchant for creating the illusion of campaign support in the most inappropriate of places.
Certainly as Vice Chairman of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership, Teixeira understands the prohibitions of 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.
Here too there is a Scientology connection as Sea Org member Lisa Mansell sits on the same CDP board as Lina Teixeira.
Clearwater Downtown Partnership holds this exemption thus they too are bound by the restrictions in place by the IRS.
Restrictions notwithstanding, Lina Teixeira’s campaign page is hosted and linked on Clearwater Downtown Partnership’s Facebook account.
Teixeira must be aware that in order to retain the 501(c)(3) exemption the IRS clearly states that there should be no political campaigning either direct or indirect.
So why is Ms Teixeira, already having raised ethical and legal questions concerning her campaign tactics, once again skirting, if not outright flouting, the law?
Why is Jolley Trolley, whose own tax exempt status is on the line, allowing themselves to be part of this quandary?
We attempted to contact the person in charge of Jolley Trolley’s advertising department, Wendy Barmore. For whatever reason Wendy has refused to return our communication.
Time and again Lina Teixeira has placed herself in questionable situations that seem to project a misleading aura of support where no support exists.
At least it is not supposed to.
Clearwater cultural affairs coordinator Chris Hubbard asked “As a City Council candidate, does her request to use city facilities as display sites represent a conflict of interest?”
So too it might be asked; as a City Council candidate, does her use of a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization to run her campaign ads represent a conflict of interests for Jolley Trolley?
What of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership?
Has Teixeira once again created a serious question of ethics and legality?
Surely by running the ads both Jolley Trolley and the CDP run the risk of violating their exemption. Teixeira cannot be ignorant of this fact.
Conversely, is this just an example of irresponsible use of campaign funds as she posts her ads on a trolly seen mostly by tourists who have no vote in Clearwater City politics?
Certainly Lina Teixeira is displaying seriously questionable decision making during her campaign.
Is this the kind of representation residents of the City of Clearwater wish to have?
Someone who at every turn seems to be shoulder to shoulder with Scientology? Someone who displays impaired decision making skills?
Think carefully citizens of the City of Clearwater before you cast your vote.