Republican Josh Tetens raises $185K as Democrat Aubrey Robertson forgoes fundraising in district attorney’s race

“I don’t want people’s money. I want their votes,” Democrat says
Josh Tetens (left) and Aubrey Robertson (right)
Josh Tetens (left) and Aubrey Robertson (right)(KWTX Archives)
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 4:01 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - If the race for McLennan County district attorney were to be decided on the candidates’ abilities to raise and spend money, Republican nominee Josh Tetens holds a distinct advantage over his Democratic opponent, Aubrey Robertson.

Except for the fact that Robertson has held no fundraisers, sought no donations and says he plans to fund his campaign solely on his own money.

Tetens, a criminal defense attorney who soundly defeated District Attorney Barry Johnson in the March primary, has raised about $185,000 since he first announced his intent to run against Johnson. He has spent about $160,000 so far in his races against Johnson and Robertson, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday.

Tetens raised about $20,000 at a September fundraiser and reports show he has about $25,000 left in campaign coffers to finish out his race against Robertson.

Robertson, a former prosecutor in McLennan and Harris counties, has raised $1,010 in total contributions from a dozen or so donors. The campaign report shows he has spent about $13,000 of his own money. He was unopposed in the primary.

Robertson pledges to return the donations he has received after the Nov. 8 general election.

“I think most politicians would be embarrassed by the lack of fundraising,” Robertson said. “But I think it is a source of pride. We are coming out of a pandemic and the Biden administration can’t seem to get inflation under control, so everything is more expensive. I think the last thing the voters of McLennan County want is a politician asking them for money.”

Robertson said he also does not intend to have fundraisers to help defray the cost of his campaign.

“I don’t want people’s money. I want their votes,” he said, suggesting that people instead donate to the Democratic Party.

While Robertson filed a campaign finance report on Monday, a review of McLennan County Election’s Office records showed he failed to file semi-annual finance reports – as he was required to do – in January and June.

Tetens, who filed his campaign reports on time, said Robertson’s failure to file the reports is “concerning and troubling.”

“One of the most important jobs a candidate has is to ensure transparency by making donations public by filing regular reports per the Texas Ethics Commission’s guidelines,” Tetens said. “I appreciate Mr. Robertson correcting that wrong with his filing this week, but it should have never been overlooked.”

Robertson initially said he didn’t think he had to file a report because he had no primary opponent. Later, he said it was an oversight because he thought the person he had entrusted to file it had done so and that person thought Robertson had filed it.

“There was a miscommunication and It didn’t get done. That is the answer,” Robertson said. “I am not a politician. I have never been a politician. So if you are looking for somebody who is a politician, then vote for the other guy. I am trying to be a prosecutor. I have experience as a prosecutor and that is what I am asking the people of McLennan County to hire me to do.”

McLennan County elections officials do not enforce campaign finance reporting requirements, and the Texas Ethics Commission only deals with violations – potentially issuing fines ­- when a formal complaint has been filed. There have been no complaints filed against Robertson, according to the commission.

Johnson said in July he hired Robertson as his first assistant to help the office run more efficiently. That lasted all of 12 days, when Johnson fired Robertson.

Johnson said at the time that Robertson left on his own to focus on his campaign. Robertson, however, said he was told he was fired because he was “creating too much chaos” in the office.

“Barry has sour grapes for losing the primary and the people he is getting advice from are giving him the wrong advice,” Robertson said at the time. “To have a press conference and laud my experience and how excited he is to hire me, only to turn around and fire me when I was actually trying to fix the problems shows he is not actually interested in running an effective office and the voters of McLennan County were right to vote him out.”