Martinez questions Adler's business connections

UPDATE Wednesday, 11 a.m. -- Environmental issues are taking center stage Wednesday in the runoff race for Austin's mayor.

City Council Member Mike Martinez and the former Deputy Director of the Save Our Springs Alliance claim attorney Steve Adler stood to profit from a lawsuit that would pollute the Barton Springs Aquifer.

Brad Rockwell was deputy director of the SOS Alliance from 2002-2006.

At a press conference at Barton Springs Pool Wednesday, Rockwell claimed Adler represented, and therefore would have profited, from a company trying to dump petro-chemicals directly into the Barton Springs Aquifer.

In a statement from Adler, the attorney says he was brought in "two years after the dispute arose to help fix the mess that had been created."

He added the two cities, and the businesses involved, contributed a combined $2 million to buy open space over the aquifer recharge zone for preservation.

"It was important to me to help bring the parties together, to protect the aquifer and to leave the SOS Ordinance strong. As mayor, I will do all within my power to protect the aquifer, and to defend the SOS Ordinance and other environmental protections," Adler said.

Here is Adler's full statement below:

"Today, Mike Martinez leveled charges against me that are false, desperate and disappointing. I have never represented Koch or the Koch brothers. In fact, as recently as last month, my firm represented an Austin family against Koch Pipeline. I have represented hundreds of landowners against oil and gas pipeline companies. About 30 years ago one of my law partners represented a Koch company. I was in law school when that work started and never had anything to do with it. Mike Martinez doesn't know what he is talking about, but he is losing this race because he has voted against homeowners, against tax payers, against neighborhoods, and against the interests of middle class families."

ORIGINAL STORY, 10 p.m. Nov. 11

AUSTIN -- The fight to become Mayor of Austin is turning from issues to attacks.

Mike Martinez talked with KVUE News Tuesday, questioning Steve Adler and his law firm's relation to Koch Industries.

"The Koch brothers, if you don't know who they are, they're anti-climate change, they're anti-gay marriage and they're anti-equal pay for women," said Martinez.

Martinez' campaign sent KVUE News an image of Adler's profile on the online legal information service that has Koch Industries listed as a client. Martinez' campaign said the image is from Oct. 25, 2014. KVUE News checked Adler's profile on the website Tuesday and the client list has been removed.

Adler admitted Tuesday that Koch Industries was listed on the website. He explained the profile was created by someone in his firm, not him, and noted it was last updated in the 1990s. Adler said he had someone with his firm, Barron Adler, remove the list from the site.

Adler said he has never represented Koch Industries and the Koch brothers.

"My understanding from talking to my law partner is that back in the '70s and into the '80s he did some work advising Koch on some cases," said Adler. "I was not involved in any of those."

Adler didn't join the firm until 1983, when it was Barron Graham. He wasn't promoted to partner until a few years later.

Martinez said the connection still matters.

"If his law firm benefited from working with the Koch brothers than he benefited from working with the Koch brothers," said Martinez. "And if that was the case, then why did it all of a sudden disappear just before this election?"

Adler said this latest attack is a distraction.

"Our campaign is focusing on the issues," said Adler. "We posted a 15 page paper on affordability and solutions and the response out of the Martinez campaign is to issue a press release that Diane, my wife, and I own a time share in Mexico."

Martinez argues the issues matter, but so do the candidates.

"He's never been active in anything that has to do with City Hall and now all of a sudden he wants to spend a million dollars to become the mayor," said Martinez. "There is a clear difference in the candidates. I've spent my entire career in East Austin. I'm raising my boys in East Austin. I'm a firefighter, I'm a public servant."

Martinez is hosting a news conference where he plans to release more information on Adler Wednesday morning. An indication the race will likely heat up even more.

Early voting for the Austin Mayor and Council runoff election starts Dec. 1, 2014. Election Day is Dec. 16, 2014.


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