East Side councilwoman in bitter pay dispute with campaign worker who helped get her elected
Records reveal Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan’s past issues with finances, including criminal charges, liens
SAN ANTONIO – A check bearing the signature of District 2 City Councilwoman Jada Andrews-Sullivan was marked “not authorized” last month, prolonging a months-long pay dispute with a campaign employee who helped get her elected this summer.
The $170 check was supposed to be the final payment for Le Reta Gatlin-McDavid, who served as a field coordinator for Andrews-Sullivan’s runoff campaign and then joined her city staff as director of community outreach.
However, when Gatlin-McDavid attempted to deposit the check into her account, it was rejected as “not authorized” and her bank charged her a $12 fee.
“After almost five months of trying to close this out, this is where I am,” said Gatlin-McDavid, who received a $170 cashier’s check from Andrews-Sullivan’s campaign days after the Defenders interviewed her, but has yet to get the first-term councilwoman to cover the fees charged by her bank for the unauthorized check.
“If you’re not communicating with your staff, how are you communicating with your community? This is a check for $170. That’s nothing. You have a whole district budget,” said Gatlin-McDavid, who resigned her director’s position Oct. 2.
Pictures shared with the KSAT 12 Defenders show Gatlin-McDavid working closely with Andrews-Sullivan in the week’s leading up to runoff election in early June, when Andrews-Sullivan captured 52 percent of the vote to beat Keith Toney.
“I actually walked with her most of the time. Some days it was just me and her walking,” said Gatlin-McDavid, describing her canvassing efforts.
During an interview at her victory party June 8, Andrews-Sullivan credited her campaign staff for getting her a seat at City Hall.
“My team did all the work. They just knocked on doors and knocked on doors,” Andrews-Sullivan told a KSAT 12 reporter on camera that night.
Gatlin-McDavid said Andrews-Sullivan even discussed making her chief of staff, but her criminal record for a nonviolent felony offense created obstacles, and she was instead given the director of community outreach position.
Gatlin-McDavid said she spent months planning and then executing public events for the councilwoman, including a town hall.
“I was running the northeast office, responsible for planning events, making sure that she stayed connected to the community,” said Gatlin-McDavid.
She said issues with her director’s position started after she traveled to Dallas for an anti-drug coalition conference and then took a planned trip to Cincinnati and was docked eight days of pay.
Gatlin-McDavid said Andrews-Sullivan called her husband to say his wife’s services were no longer needed.
“I was still working, which makes the job kind of hard when you’re not communicating with the person you are working for,” said Gatlin-McDavid.
After her separation from Andrews-Sullivan’s staff, Gatlin-McDavid had still not received her final payment for work done on the campaign.
After the check was returned as “not authorized” late last month, Gatlin McDavid received a text message from the councilwoman telling her, “My apologies for the confusion. It will be taken care of.”
However, Andrews-Sullivan had a much different tone when asked by the Defenders about the check last week.
“She’s a disgruntled employee who has been terminated. She resigned. This is a retaliation attack,” said Andrews-Sullivan, who added that Gatlin-McDavid resigned in lieu of being terminated, once the Defenders gave her a chance to clarify her termination, resignation comment.
Andrews-Sullivan denied blocking the payment of the check that she signed and instead said it was marked “not authorized” because it had not been uploaded to the bank prior to it going out.
She described that step as a safeguard put in place this summer after a previous pay dispute between Andrews-Sullivan and another campaign staffer in June.
Records obtained by the Defenders show that on June 6, Andrews-Sullivan submitted fraud statements claiming several checks were written to Sylvia Lopez by someone else with no authorization and handed over before campaign work hours could be verified.
According to the Rivard Report, Andrews-Sullivan settled the dispute with Lopez in August.
Lopez did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
An interview before executive session
The Defenders earlier this month requested an on-camera interview with Andrews-Sullivan for this story, but did not hear back.
Last week, the councilwoman’s director of communications told the Defenders via email that one of the best ways to get a few minutes of her time is before the start of executive session.
The Defenders followed the staffer’s instructions, only to then be accused by Andrews-Sullivan of ambushing her as she walked to executive session.
Collier: I don’t think you know the definition of ambush. If I had not reached out and then showed up, that would be an ambush. But we’ve been reaching out since last week.
Andrews-Sullivan: But you did that. In lieu of that, I already told you...
Collier: We reached out last week and you didn’t respond for several days, so here we are.
Andrews-Sullivan: You didn’t reach out to me, you reached out to my communications director.
Criminal charges, a bankruptcy and liens
A background check of Andrews-Sullivan reveals multiple criminal charges in her past related to the writing of checks.
In 2000, records show she was charged with misdemeanor theft by check in Bexar and Guadalupe counties. That same year, she was also charged with misdemeanor issuance of a bad check in Hays County.
In the Bexar County case, Andrews-Sullivan, who was charged under the name Jada Hunt, was accused in November 2000 of writing a bad check to a far North Side Pizza Hut in the 17800 block of Blanco Road, according to records from the case.
The criminal charge was dismissed in November 2003 after Andrews-Sullivan paid restitution, records show.
Records show she was charged in Guadalupe County in September 2000 with theft by check, only to have the criminal case dismissed three years later.
In Hays County, where Andrews-Sullivan was charged in 2000 with issuance of a bad check, records show restitution was later made but the criminal charge was not formally dismissed until earlier this year.
In 2009, records show Andrews-Sullivan filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in San Antonio.
She has also been listed as the debtor in at least five liens, most of them filed by apartment complexes, between 2001 and January of this year.
Andrews-Sullivan did not respond to repeated questions for comment about her financial history.
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