2022 candidates have raised $3 million-plus

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The leading candidates to be Austin’s next mayor are (L-R) Celia Israel, Kirk Watson, and Jennifer Virden

Collectively the candidates have more than $2 million cash on hand to run blow-out campaigns through November 8th election day

Click this image to download the Bulldog’s complete Campaign Finance Analysis

Mayoral candidate Kirk Watson continues to dominate fundraising. He’s netted more than $1.2 million through the latest campaign finance reports. That’s 41 percent of the total accepted by all 34 candidates. In addition, he’s got more than $820,000 in cash on hand, which means voters can expect to see lots and lots of television, direct mail, and social media coverage. (For details on all the candidates campaign finances click on the accompanying graphic to pull up our analysis spreadsheet.)

The former state senator has raised 3.5 times as much as State Representative Celia Israel, althrough her $350,000-plus tally should keep her in the running. She has $288,000 in cash on hand. Watson has more than 12 times that much.

Mayoral candidate Jennifer Virden is the sole Republican in the mayor’s race and the $163,000 she’s raised is anemic in comparison to the two leading Democrats. Still, she has $311,000 cash on hand by virtue of the $300,000 she loaned to her campaign early on.

The other three so-called candidates—Anthony Bradshaw, Phil Compero Brual, and Gary S. Spellman have not filed a single campaign finance report, despite having paid $500 filing fees. All three also failed to file statements concerning their personal finances, which opens them to criminal prosecution (more about that later).

Natasha Harper-Madison

District 1—Incumbent Natasha Harper-Madison is crushing opponents financially. She has raised nearly $145,000, which is 18 times the amount netted by Misael D. Ramos, who raised less than $8,000. Meanwhile Clinton Rarey raised $4,923 and Melonie House-Dixon pulled in $925.

Harper-Madison also has an immense advantage in nearly $62,000 in cash on hand, about seven times the amount held by Ramos.

Jose Velasquez

District 3—Jose Velasquez pulled in more than $75,000, which is three times the $23,000 that Daniela Silva collected. Both are head and shoulders above the amounts contributed to the other four candidates in this race.

Velasquez also has $62,000 cash on hand, more than seven times Silva’s stash.

District 5—The top money raiser in this race is Aaron Velazquez Webman at $122,000. But he only holds that advantage because he donated—not loaned—his campaign $50,000 in the previous reporting cycle.

Aaron Velazquez Webman

Pull out that $50,000 and Webman would be neck-and-neck with Ryan Joseph Alter (no relation to incumbent District 10 Council Member Alison Alter). Alter has so far raised more than $71,000. Yet he’s not far ahead of Ken Craig at $63,000 and Stephanie Bazan at almost $62,000.

Speaking of Bazan, the City Accountability Project’s Political Action Committee issued a press release October 14th attacking her for failing to disclose the occupation and employer of contributors who donated $200 or more to her campaign, as required by City Code Section 2-2-21. The PAC has endorsed Webman in District 5.

The Bulldog’s review of Bazan’s latest campaign finance report filed October 10th indicated the candidate listed the occupations and employers for seven contributors of $200 or more, failed to do so for two contributors, and disclosed the occupation but not the employer for one contributor. However, Bazan’s previous contribution report filed July 15th contained numerous entries in which the contributor’s occupation was listed. But in the block on the form that should contain the employer’s name, the entries were “NA”.

In terms of cash on hand, Webman at $63,000 is barely ahead of Craig’s $57,000. Alter had nearly $50,000 left and Bazan had $43,000.

Paige Ellis

District 8—While Richard Smith has raised nearly $47,000, that’s not even a third as much as incumbent Paige Ellis, who’s raked up more than $122,000.

Because Ellis has spent so little she’s sitting on $121,000 in cash, almost four times what Smith has in the bank.

District 8 candidates Kimberly P. Hawkins and Antonio D. Ross have not bothered to file a single campaign finance report so far.

Ben Leffler

District 9—Candidate Ben Leffler has raised $119,000, which is a good bit more than others, That said, all but one of the candidates in this race have raised substantial sums: Zohaib Qadri is a strong second at almost $93,000, while Greg Smith is close behind at $91,000, as is Joah Spearman at $84,000. And Linda Guerrero has accepted $63,000.

Kym Olson has raised just $5,200 but she has drawn attention for accepting a $50,000 loan from Krista Olson of Round Rock. According to Jo Clifton’s report in the Austin Monitor, the lender is the candidate’s sister. The article explores the legality of the loan but doesn’t settle the matter with certainty.

Leffler also has an edge in cash on hand, with more than $84,000. Nearest is Greg Smith at more than $66,000, followed closely by Olson at more than $55,000 (due that that $50,000 loan) and Guerrero at $50,000. Then comes Qadri at more than $35,000 and Wald with more than $23,000.

The final pre-election campaign finance reports are due October 31st.

Candidates open to criminal complaints

As the Bulldog reported September 28th, 13 of 34 candidates had by the deadlines failed to file one or both of the reports required to shed light on their personal finances.

Section 145.009 of Local Government Code states that a candidate who fails to file a Personal Financial Statement commits a Class B misdemeanor.

Austin City Charter Section 2-7-99 states that a violation of financial disclosure rules, which would include failure to file required reports, such as a Statement of Financial Information, is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Enforcement of these requirements is within the jurisdiction of the City’s Ethics Review Commission, which only acts on violations in response to sworn complaints. The form for making such complaints is here. The instructions for completing the form is here. Complaints are filed with the Austin City Clerk.

Myrna Rios

Austin City Clerk Myrna Rios said in an email yesterday that her office has not received complaints against any of the non-filers for consideration by the City’s Ethics Review Commission.

As our report stated, 11 candidates failed to file Personal Financial Statements and nine failed to file Statements of Financial Information.

After that report was published, the Bulldog filed another round of public information requests to gather any statements filed by candidates after the deadlines. As a result, the following statements were obtained:

District 1 candidate Melonie House-Dixon filed a Statement of Financial Information.

District 1 candidate Clinton Rarey filed a Personal Financial Statement.

District 5 candidate Ken Craig filed both a Personal Financial Statement and Statement of Financial Information.

Those statements have been uploaded and linked in the September 28th story.

The rest of the candidates named in the September 28th report still have not cured their violations, including:

Mayoral candidates Anthony Bradshaw, Phil Compero Brual, and Gary S. Spellman.

District 3 candidate Jose Noe Elias.

District 5 candidates Brian Anderson II and Stephanie Bazan.

District 8 candidates Kimberly P. Hawkins and Antonio D. Ross.

District 9 candidates Zena Mitchell and Greg Smith.

Photo of Ken MartinTrust indicators: Ken Martin finished his Marine Corps career as a major, retiring in 1978. For the last dozen years of that he was a financial accounting officer. He still has an affection for numbers and what they tell us.

Related documents:

Ethics Review Commission Chapter 2-7 City Code Complaint form (6 pages)

Instruction Sheet for Ethics Review Commission Complaint Form (1 page)

Related Bulldog coverage:

The man who would be mayor…again, October 10, 2022

Want to get elected but not be accountable? September 28, 2022

Mayor and council candidates rake up $2.3 million, September 7, 2022

Urbanists vie to replace council member Kathie Tovo, August 30, 2022

Let the mayor and council campaigns begin, August 22, 2022

Delgado will not be on the District 3 ballot, August 18, 2022

Half the mayor and council candidates haven’t file for a place on the ballot, August 18, 2022

Cosmetic executive runs for mayor on message of unity, ‘cooperation’, August 18, 2022

BCCP celebration: Balcones Canyonlands Conservation Plan looks back on 15 years of accomplishments, May 17, 2011

The Life and Death of Barton SpringsThe Good Life magazine, July 2002

3 COMMENTS

  1. rumor had it that the city of Austin had a glitch that delayed the reporting. by the end of the day of 10/12, most of the candidates had their reports filed. At least one filed on the 12th, but most were on time.

  2. It’s not clear to me what reports you’re referring to. If it’s to campaign finance reports, the story contains no criticisms as to late filing but does point out that numerous candidates filed no reports. If your comment concerns reports of the candidates personal finances, even after a second round of public information requests the named candidates did not file reports and are subject to criminal penalties.

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