Lewis questions Stout's use of sick leave for campaigning

Lewis questions Stout's use of sick leave for campaigning

Precinct Two County Commissioner Sergio Lewis is questioning whether run-off election opponent David Stout, as an aide to State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, misused sick leave by campaigning in the county election.

"I wouldn't let that happen. I would not let that happen," Lewis said. "If I was in a situation, and one of my aides was campaigning, they definitely would not be using sick leave to be campaigning, if that's the question."

According to Stout's senate time cards obtained by ABC-7, between August and this past March, he requested 498 hours of comp time -- more than 12 weeks worth. And 152 of those hours -- nearly four weeks worth -- were sick leave, 64 of which came in February, the month before the election. In the entire fiscal year ending August 2013 -- Stout took 51 hours of sick leave.

Lewis released a flyer recently, saying he's missed just five commissioners court meetings in three and a half years, and that Stout has been campaigning on the taxpayers' dime.

"It's time that I've worked hard for to accrue," said Stout, who makes $40,000 a year as an aide to the senator. "And this just goes again to the attacks that he is now bringing up against me. This is something that's dishonest. I'm not working on state time. All this time is time that is owed to me."

Stout's campaign website says, "Our current commissioner does not show up to work." A recent flyer from Stout reads, "Donde esta Sergio Lewis?" and says Lewis misses 41 percent of his Central Appraisal District meetings.

"According to the report, I think this is a clear reflection of my opponent's character," Lewis said. "The question is, is he using sick leave -- as a question -- is he using sick leave to campaign? Has he been using sick leave to campaign?"

The senate employee handbook says Stout would need a doctor's note if he takes three consecutive sick days. But Stout used all 64 of his February sick hours in two-day increments. He also took Dec. 16 and 17 as sick leave, when he posted a Facebook picture from the Democratic Party Headquarters of him drawing a place on the county ballot.

Stout posted another picture on Valentine's Day just before sunset with a caption saying he was finishing block walking. Yet he requested no time off that day -- but the time card shows sick hours crossed out and initialed. Stout couldn't explain why that was.

No time off on Election Day either, yet he was actively campaigning on Facebook and posting pictures.

"No rules here were broken," Stout said. "I have not been campaigning on state time. This is time that I have accrued as a state employee. And for my opponent to be flat-out lying and telling people that I am campaigning on state time -- this is terrible."

Secretary of the Texas Senate Patsy Spaw said Monday that full-time employees cannot campaign on state time, putting in question the days Stout campaigned but didn't request time off.

Spaw also said sick leave is accrued at eight hours a month and can roll over from one fiscal year to another. Stout has worked for the senator nearly three years. The way aides use sick leave is up to each individual senator, Spaw said.

State Sen. Jose Rodriguez's office didn't return ABC-7's call Monday.

The run-off election between Lewis and Stout is May 27. Early voting starts May 19.

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