Ticketgate surfaces at council
Three members of the Porterville City Council Tuesday vehemently denied ever accepting or handing out free tickets in response to allegations around town that all council members have done that.
The comments came in relation to allegations against Councilman Greg Shelton that he not only received more than 400 free tickets, but he also printed up and handed out more tickets to the April 21 Thunder at the Rock event at Rocky Hill Raceway.
Only Mayor Ron Irish, Vice Mayor Cam Hamilton and Councilman Pete McCracken were in attendance. Councilman Brian Ward did not attend the meeting because of illness and Shelton left prior to the start of the open meeting, saying he too was not feeling well.
Irish first brought up the subject at the end of his parting comments as mayor. Irish will relinquish his seat on the council at the July 3 meeting and was thanking those he has worked with in the city, his wife Teri, and his father for their support.
Then, at the conclusion of his short remarks, Irish said, “Tickets. I have never took a ticket, never passed out tickets and I always paid for what I got.”
He was followed by Hamilton, who used the term “Ticketgate” in referring to the allegations against Shelton. Said Hamilton, “Not one ticket did I receive, not one ticket I’ve given away, not one ticket did I not pay for.”
McCracken also denied ever taking free tickets or handing out free tickets.
“Under today’s regulations you have to be very careful. It’s not what you do with them, it’s that you took them in the first place,” he said.
Porterville resident Brock Neeley has filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against Shelton, alleging that the council member received tickets valued far above what an elected official can accept in gifts. Neeley alleges Shelton handed out some 400 free tickets valued at $10 each. He says the state limitation on accepting gifts is just $400.
The FPPC acknowledged last week that it had reviewed Neeley’s charges and decided to further investigate the issue.
Shelton admits he accepted and handed out tickets and has admitted he printed up extra tickets to hand out, but he said he had permission of the promoters to do so. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Irish said he made the statement regarding tickets because in the past two weeks he has received a number of calls from people asking him how many tickets did he get.
“Many people were telling me you all get tickets,” he said.
The Recorder was also given a copy of an e-mail sent to Justin Crawford and Amy Maddox, racetrack promoters, seeking them to release Shelton, the Tule River Tribal Council, Eagle Mountain Casino, Russell Silvas, and B&B Transmission from all claims regarding the April 21 event.
It also sought the promoters “attest” that the disagreements were of a “Civil,” not “Criminal” matter and were “the result of a simple misunderstanding between all parties involved.”
The “release” also sought them to agree that the passes (tickets) given Shelton were not gifts, but were “total compensation” awarded him for his activities promoting the event; that the promoters release Shelton from any and all claims “for any unawarded promotional raffle prices donated by any sponsors.”
In return, the e-mail said the parties would agree “never again [to] initiate any other criminal or civil legal actions against each other.”
The e-mail containing the release was sent to Crawford by Russell Silvas of B&B Transmissions and was sent on June 18.
Silvas said Wednesday he was not the author of the e-mail, but because he is friends with both parties, he was asked to send it to Crawford and Maddox.
“I’m trying to get everybody just to calm down,” he said.
However, he said the promoters have told him they have no intention of signing it.
“I’m just hoping. It’d be nice if they could sit down and talk about it,” said Silvas.