Citizens Investigate Donation Made to Judicial Candidate’s Foundation

Nueces County, TX – In April 2022, KRIS 6 News conducted an investigation into the ethical dilemma of Corpus Christi’s elected officials awarding contracts to organizations or individuals who make generous donations to their personal foundations, and now Nueces County citizens want answers: What is Judge Barbara Canales and the Ready or Not Foundation hiding? Why are they failing to comply with Texas statutes regarding nonprofit financial transparency?

Recently, it was brought to Nueces County Citizens Defending Freedom’s (CCDF-Nueces) attention that in 2019, Nueces County began the lucrative process of hiring a document digitization company, Kofile Technologies Group, to extract fees from citizens in exchange for providing remote access to county records as an alternative to in-person courthouse access. Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales toured Kofile’s headquarters in October 2019, and on that same day, a $50,000 donation was made by the Marilyn & Sonny Oates Foundation to a nonprofit organization where Canales is the Chief Executive Officer, the Ready or Not Foundation. Sonny Oates was owner and Chairman of the Board for Kofile for ten years, until February 2020. This generous donation was the first and only donation that the Oates Foundation has ever made to any south Texas foundation. Shortly after this donation was made, a contract between Kofile and Nueces County was signed for $2 million dollars.

The Texas Business Organization Code, Chapter 22, explicitly states that a nonprofit corporation must keep records, books, and annual reports of the corporation’s financial activity; and that the corporation must make the records, books, and reports available to the public for inspection. After this information was brought to light, CCDF-Nueces attempted to follow our Matthew 18 process and reached out to the parties involved to learn more about the situation, and the money that was exchanged. A public information request was submitted to the Ready or Not Foundation, seeking to obtain their financial statements in an attempt to follow Texas statutes regarding nonprofit transparency and accountability. The Ready or Not Foundation shares the same address as Canales Law Firm, the law offices of Judge Canales’ father, Tony Canales – a white collar criminal defense attorney. All letters sent to the foundation’s headquarters and leadership have gone unanswered or were rejected upon delivery. In an attempt to sit down and have a conversation with leaders of Ready or Not, Tony Canales verbally accosted the CCDF-Nueces representative, tore the public information request document in half, and demanded they leave the premises. “THERE is your information,” Mr. Canales stated. “Now get out of my building, I’m Tony Canales and I own this building. I want you out of here and don’t come back.”

CCDF-USA is committed to shining the light and exposing corruption in our elected officials, and we will continue to pursue the truth and get answers to questions raised by our citizens.