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Days after a candidate for Midland City Council announced her intentions to challenge an incumbent councilman, a heated chain of emails was exchanged between the candidate and the chairman of the Midland Development Corporation, which one of the participants claims contains attempts at intimidation and a threat.

Kimberly Crisp, a licensed professional counselor, announced on July 9 she would be running for Midland City Council against incumbent Councilman J. Ross Lacy. A few days later, Crisp filed an information request as part of her campaign platform research, seeking the MDC’s expense records for the fiscal years 2017-2018. Instead of receiving the requested financial data, Crisp was directed to make her information request through the information portal before Chairman Hilliard then responded, accusing Crisp of having made “false and defamatory accusations” against an MDC employee, the board, and the MDC itself.

Hilliard described alleged statements by Crisp as being “derogatory, wreck less, and repulsive.” [sic] He went on to caution Crisp against making any further false or defamatory statements and demanded she removes any accusations from all written or public statements.

Crisp responded to Hilliard in an email, stating the following:

“If you could please inform me where you found the statements mentioned in your email, we would certainly be interested in addressing them accordingly. This team has a vested interest in running this campaign in a legal, transparent, and Godly way. It is not the goal of this campaign to personally attack any individual or mislead anyone. Instead, it is our mission to give voters (be they majority or minority) a chance to cast an informed ballot against the status quo with regards to the use of their hard-earned tax dollars.”

Hilliard then responded by pointing to Crisp’s campaign website, saying the site made accusations that the MDC “leadership is guilty of corruption [and] of cronyism,” before levying legal threats against Crisp.

“It is my belief that Kimberly Crisp has committed moral turpitude and if it continues I intend to report her actions to the Texas Board of Examiners of Psychology,” Hilliard said. “I will also file suit on Monday July 15, 2019 seeking damages as well as a restraining order if these and other false and misleading statements are not removed from all your material. If I determine that I have been damaged by her accusations or statements, I will also file suit to recover damages for the same.”

The email concludes with Hilliard discussing the ways the community could benefit without Crisp having to lose her psychology license, touting some of the investments made by the MDC and pointing out that one former MDC member is now a justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

Crisp’s campaign website manager replied to Hilliard, saying they found “only one use of the words ‘corruption’ or ‘cronyism’” and removed it from the website.

Crisp spoke before the Midland City Council this week, revealing the email exchange and telling the council members that the MDC chairman “intimidated and threatened a political candidate.”

“This threat to my livelihood is by extension a threat to my family and my children,” Crisp stated.

It may be beneficial for the alleged information Crisp provided to the council to be reviewed before the council considers whether it would be appropriate to reappoint Hilliard to another term as MDC chairman.

At-large Midland City Councilman Michael Trost spoke with Texas Scorecard about the allegations surrounding the emails, giving an exclusive statement saying, “I experienced similar attacks from the same antagonist as Ms. Crisp during my winning campaign for Midland City Council at-large. There were multiple postings on social media of negative misinformation designed to influence voters against me.”

“As for Ms. Crisp, Mayor Morales is investigating, and I look [forward] eagerly to reading his report,” Trost concluded.

With the surprise retirement announcement of Congressman Mike Conaway, Lacy, the councilman Crisp sought to challenge, has since abandoned his re-election campaign and will run for Congress instead. Hilliard, likewise, now serves as campaign chairman for Lacy’s congressional campaign.

With the mayor now investigating the incident, council members are reportedly awaiting the mayor’s findings.

Texas Scorecard will monitor this story as it develops.

A copy of the emails can be viewed here.