Filing errors in the latest campaign finance reports for two of the candidates for El Paso County Judge give the impression they raised more money than they actually did in a specific time frame.
"The law is very clear. We encourage candidates to read the rules carefully. Candidates were only supposed to report contributions from January 1st through January 23rd in this latest report," said Natalia Luna Ashley, Interim Executive Director of the Texas Ethics Commission.
Aliana Apodaca and Eddie Holguin reported contributions beyond January 23rd. Apodaca reported $26,917 from January 1st to January 31st and Holguin reported $5,100 in contributions from January 16th through February 3rd. Holguin raised $1,475 after January 23rd until February 3rd.
Incumbent Veronica Escobar is the only candidate who reported contributions received during the time frame specified by the ethics commission. She reported $16,997 from January 1st through January 23rd.
"Our intention was that we reported everything in terms of cash on hand. And if we need to send an amended version of the report, we will," said Apodaca.
If you cut the additional days of contributions Apodaca erroneously reported, She raised $16,117 from January 1st through the 23rd, showing she trailed Escobar's $16,997 in contributions during that same time frame.
Apodaca, however, has still overall out raised her experienced incumbent. According to the reports, she's raised $94,849, while Escobar has raised $79,461 overall.
Escobar said she's received "at least $10,000" from January 23rd to February 3rd, but did not provide receipts or check stubs.
"Money doesn't always win a race," said Escobar, who believes her pool of donors is more diverse and is made up of fewer big contributions from specific groups. Apodaca believes her funds show her message is resonating with voters.
With early voting less than two weeks away, what political insiders are watching is how much money the candidates still have to spend.
Historically, now is the time candidates send out the most mailers and buy the most advertising on television and radio in order to get their message out.
"You want to be armed and have a fully loaded toolbox so that you can win your race," said Escobar, who adds her campaign has been strategic about when to "pull the trigger" and spend the most.
Apodaca reported she has $28,716 of on-hand cash to spend. Escobar reported $43,544 in her war chest. Holguin reported $3,797.
"We have commitments from people so I feel confident we'll raise the money we need," said Apodaca.
The official with the Texas Ethics Commission said the filing error by Apodaca and Holguin "does not automatically trigger a fine." She said the Commission would review it if a complaint was filed
Holguin and his campaign treasurer did not return ABC-7's phone calls requesting an interview about the finance reports.