NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
DALLAS -- He's a former Dallas mayor pro tem, City Council member and candidate for Congress. But now Steve Salazar is the subject of a lawsuit, as well as allegations he's been misreporting campaign funds.
From the time he was 26 years old, Steve Salazar has always run for something; community college trustee, Dallas City Council, where he served twice. This year, he ran for Congress, but lost in the primary.
In June, to help retire some of his debt, Salazar borrowed $20,000 from San Antonio businessman Javier Barbosa.
"Yeah, he told me, 'I promise I will pay you back that money in 30 days,'” Barbosa said.
Barbosa said Salazar also promised him $20,000 in free legal advice, as well as the “keys to the City of Dallas," something a former Dallas City Council member, according to policy, could never deliver on.
But according to Barbosa, Salazar only repaid $7,500 within the 30 days allotted.
"We tried to make contact with him multiple times,” Barbosa said. “He never returned our calls or returned my e-mails or texts, and that's when we decided to file a lawsuit against him for the amount that he owes me, plus interest, plus attorney's fees.”
The suit filed, last week in Hidalgo County, accuses Salazar of defaulting on the loan.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) laws, Salazar should have reported the loan from Barbosa on his federal campaign reports. But that report, filed just weeks ago - nearly six months late - indicates Salazar not only never received the loan from Barbosa, he didn't receive or spend any campaign money at all during the May and June reporting period.
"I am working on a corrected campaign report," Salazar told News 8. "I don't have an answer for you right now as to why the loan wasn’t reported."
Salazar also said he has "no comment on the lawsuit, because I haven't been served."
FEC officials say Salazar could face civil penalties for misreporting campaign contributions, loans or expenditures. But the larger penalty could be a tarnished political career for a man who was seemingly born to run.
"We are speaking about a public servant here, someone who's been in office for a while, and he's doing this and thinking he can get away with it,” Barbosa said. “I challenge him to honor his word and pay me my money back."