Fair Campaign Fund
Fair Campaign Funds Allocated Unfairly
Two of the three candidates who split the money
may not be entitled, city rules are in question
Investigative Report by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2014
Posted Monday December 1, 2014 5:17pm
The Austin City Clerk deemed three candidates in the City Council runoffs eligible for equal shares of the $83,965.74 held in the Austin Fair Campaign Finance Fund, which provides partial public support for qualifying candidates. The Fund is built through lobbyist registration fees, donations, money collected for violations of campaign contracts, and candidate filing fees.
District 3 candidates (and siblings) Susana Almanza and Sabino Renteria and District 7 candidate Leslie Pool were notified November 14 they would each get checks for $27,988.58, City Clerk Jannette Goodall told The Austin Bulldog. They picked up the checks between November 18 and 21, she said.
None of the other candidates involved in runoffs for mayor and council signed the voluntary Austin Fair Campaign Contract.
Almanza and Renteria, however, may not have been entitled to those funds because they signed the Austin Fair Campaign Contract too late, according to one City Code provision.
To be eligible for a share of the Austin Fair Campaign Finance Fund, City Code Section 2-2-11 requires that candidates must sign the Austin Fair Campaign Contract agreeing to abide by limitations on contributions and expenditures and to participate in a series of candidate forums.
Section 2-2-11(B) states “A candidate must personally sign the campaign contract the earlier of (emphasis added):
(1) 30 days after he or she becomes a candidate under the Texas Election Code; or
(2) the date the candidate files for a place on the ballot.
Goodall said she had consulted with the Law Department and Ethics Review Commission and followed the same procedure used in past elections to disburse money to these three candidates based on the dates they filed for a place on the ballot.
“We had always used the ballot application deadline as a trigger and we kept with that date as well for this election,” Goodall said.
Tradition trumped City Code