Thomas ad put to the truth test

October 28, 2008 5:02:05 PM PDT
A new political ad claims candidate for Harris County sheriff Adrian Garcia once used drugs...a lot. And Garcia says it's partly true. But that's not the entire story. The newest ad tries to make a campaign about law enforcement leadership into a campaign about police discipline and marijuana use in 1977, when Adrian Garcia was 16 years old. "Sheriff Tommy Thomas is making Harris County safer," the ad tells viewers.

It starts innocently enough.

"Putting more deputies on the street, criminals in jail and creating a sex offender registry," the ad continues.

We've seen that before. It's true that more deputies are on the street. There are more criminals in jail. But there is no evidence Tommy Thomas ever had a hand in creating the state sex offender registry. So that part's not true.

But that's not why this ad is going to get attention.

"Adrian Garcia failed us," the ad says.

Here is where it takes the turn.

"He was disciplined for misplacing drug evidence, causing two accidents and missing work," the ad alleges.

That's true. Garcia was disciplined as an HPD officer for keeping drug evidence in his office, not in an evidence locker. He admits it was a mistake.

"Garcia admitted to using marijuana over 100 times," the ad says.

Wow. Garcia says he told HPD recruiters on his application that he'd used marijuana before applying to become an officer and in an interview with abc13.com, he was honest about it now.

"It happened before I became a police officer," said Garcia in the interview. "I was truthful with the recruiting and hiring process. The department deemed me worthy to continue on, to have a career."

But the ad says it was 100 times. The Thomas campaign apparently took that from Garcia's original application. The city couldn't give it to us today. Garcia says it's not in his copy of the file.

The Thomas campaign released one page from their copy of the file in which an HPD interviewer apparently quotes Garcia, saying, "He smoked marijuana 100 times in his life, with the last time being two years ago." That would've been in 1977. Garcia was 16 or 17 years old, 31 years ago.

"Misplaces drugs, reckless driver, admitted drug user. Adrian Garcia is not what we want in a sheriff," concludes the ad.

Garcia calls it a desperate attempt to distract people in the waning days of this campaign.

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