Two Texas politicians have resigned after being accused of using city funds to see Michelle Obama on her Becoming tour.
Mayor Lyndia Thomas and Mayor Pro Tem Beckie Duncan Hayes of Forest Hills, Texas, handed in their resignations on Wednesday, according to ABC News.
The women allegedly bought two $545 tickets to an event for the former first lady’s book tour. After attending the evening with Obama, they submitted reimbursement forms to the city, and Duncan Hayes received a check for $1091.92.
Duncan Hayes eventually returned the money to silence skeptical members of a citizens committee. Thomas insists she did nothing wrong and claims she resigned to avoid a hearing scheduled for the same day. She wanted a three-week extension to prepare her case, but the city council denied her request.
“We don't get a salary, but we are entitled to be reimbursed for our expenses," Thomas told WFAA. "We are not trying to hide anything."
During the hearing, the council was supposed to "discuss and consider possible action up to and including reprimand, suspension or removal from office."
Like Thomas, Duncan Hayes did not want to face the council.
"I will not leave my fate in the hands of other individuals," Duncan Hayes said. "I am a woman of integrity, and the allegations, they have no substance. They are false."
She says the event was a chance for the pair to learn from Obama.
"We have a public relations fund,” Duncan Hayes told NBC5. “In our public relations fund, we can go to -- it doesn't specify what we can do and where we can go. But it's set aside for us to go and learn."
"When you're out there, you're more or less, building relationships, connecting with people, trying to find out things or whatever,” she said.
Both women believe they are being targeted by conniving officials and intend to run for office again in May. Because they resigned, they will be allowed to run again. If they had been forced out, they wouldn’t be allowed on the ballot.
Duncan Hayes is confident she will regain her position.
"I'm expecting to win,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Clara Faulkner is now the city's acting mayor, and despite the drama, she is hopeful for the future.
“I am astonished,” Faulkner said. "The city is moving forward. We will continue to move forward. We can only go up.”
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