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Mesquite mayor-elect gave brother, friends nearly 300 rounds of free golf on city's dime, records show

Councilmember and mayor-elect Bruce Archer is facing criticism for his use of free passes to the city-owned Mesquite Golf Club.

This story has been updated to show election results. 

Longtime Mesquite council member and mayor-elect Bruce Archer faces criticism over concerns that he gave his brother hundreds of free passes to the city's golf course. 

WFAA obtained golf course receipts from 2014 to 2019 for the city-owned Mesquite Golf Club. The receipts and tee time sheets show Bruce Archer's brother and friends haven't paid a penny for almost 300 rounds of golf in five years.

A regular round of golf with a cart at the club is $38. Johnny Archer's free rounds of golf are worth more than $10,000. 

The golf course lost $26,000 in the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to city officials. 

Council members in Mesquite can request free passes to the course whenever they want. The perk has been in place since 2014 as part of a marketing plan to encourage play at the city-owned course, according to a city spokesperson. 

“The passes have been provided to a variety of groups to use for fundraisers or to redistribute," said Communications Director Wayne Larson. 

Archer seems to be sharing them more than the rest. A lot more. 

After several attempts at an on-camera interview, WFAA approached Bruce Archer after a Mesquite City Council committee meeting. He said he didn’t want to comment beyond a written statement he released.

“There is no policy or specific direction on how to use the passes. Since I don’t golf, I’ve often given the passes I get either to my brother to bring new golfers to the course or to other residents who like to golf,” Archer said in the statement. 

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Johnny Archer isn't a Mesquite resident. He lives in Forney. He is also his brother's boss. 

"You don't hook up your family — and in this case, your boss — with free services because you're in a powerful position," said councilmember Jeff Casper. 

Records show Johnny Archer did start paying for his own golf around the same time his brother started campaigning for mayor. 

Bruce Archer ran against the incumbent, Stan Pickett, who has held the office since 2015. Archer has served on the City Council since 2014. 

Archer won the mayoral race with 52% of the votes. 

Some council members believe Archer has been gaming the system and should pay the city for the rounds of golf his brother played for free. 

“Mr. Archer should have to pay that money back,” said councilmember Tandy Boroughs. “It’s just profoundly against anything that I could ever fathom.”

Former Mesquite Planning and Zoning Commissioner and council candidate Jennifer Bidler said Bruce Archer has "basically stolen taxpayer dollars." 

“When you’re asking for the citizens to trust you with more power and you’re stealing from the taxpayers on this level, I have strong issues with that,” Bidler said. 

There is no written policy detailing how City Council members and city employees can use the golf passes, and there is no indication of whether city leaders will implement a policy. 

"The idea we need a policy so that a public servant knows not to hand out $15,000 of taxpayer-funded city services is ridiculous," Casper said. "He needs to pay the money back." 

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