Campaign Finance

Virden lawsuit overturns city campaign restriction

U.S, District Judge Robert Pitman of the Western District of Texas yesterday declared unconstitutional the restriction found in the Austin City Code that restricts...

Austin’s got a $2 million mayor

This story was updated at 4:14pm January 26th to correct the statement made about Jennifer Virden’s total spending. The $220,000 she repaid to herself...

Court denies Fair Campaign restraining order

After losing court decision, runoff candidates Alter and Velasquez dropped their claim for a share of the Fair Campaign Finance Fund Only runoff candidates Daniela...

Indy Spending Big Election Factor

Indy Spending Big Election Factor

Fifteen political action committees trying
to influence mayor and council elections

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2014
Posted Wednesday October 29, 2014 5:14pm

While mayor and City Council candidates are scratching to raise every dollar they can for their campaigns, political action committees (PACs) are sitting on a pile of campaign cash and have already spent more than $194,000 on so-called independent expenditures to help selected candidates win outright on November 4—or at least get into a runoff.

Independent expenditures are monies spent for electioneering communication or express advocacy to support or oppose a candidate without consulting with a candidate’s campaign.

These PACs still had a combined total of more than $856,000 in contributions on hand as of their latest contribution and expenditure reports and may spend a hunk of that money in the last days of the campaign and then weigh in again for the inevitable runoffs to be decided December 16.

Click on this image to download the spreadsheet.The independent expenditures and funds on hand are detailed in the attached spreadsheet, Independent Expenditures for 2014 Austin Mayor and City Council Elections through October 27, 2014.

Not every PAC reported independent expenditures and many have not disclosed their top donors in advertising or other electioneering communication, as required by the Austin City Code. The requirement to report independent expenditures and include the names of top donors in communications took effect for the first time in this election.

Dafoe Offers to Settle for $40,000

Dafoe Offers to Settle for $40,000

 Settlement invitation for Mayor Leffingwell would avoid
lawsuit, depositions, and trial for Election Code violations

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday March 21, 2013 1:26pm

Clay DafoeClay Dafoe—who along with former Council Member Brigid Shea ran unsuccessfully against Mayor Lee Leffingwell in his 2012 reelection bid—has invited the mayor to settle without litigation Dafoe’s claim for damages by paying him $40,000.

This in lieu of the potential for more than $65,000 in statutory damages that could be awarded if Dafoe were to prevail in a lawsuit over Leffingwell’s failure to timely file accurate campaign finance reports as required by the state Election Code.

Lee LeffingwellMayor Leffingwell did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment about the settlement offer or to a voice message left with his chief of staff, Andy Mormon.

Election Code Section 254.231 makes a candidate who fails to report campaign contributions or campaign expenditures that are required to be reported liable for damages to opposing candidates in twice the amount that was unreported and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in the suit. (If judgment should be rendered in the defendant’s favor the defendant is entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees.)

The Austin Bulldog’s investigative report, published March 5, showed that Leffingwell’s 2012 mayoral campaign did not account for $32,716.54 in funds. In addition, his 2009 campaign left more than $40,000 unaccounted for. (See Lee Leffingwell 2009 and 2012 Campaign Finance Reports Analysis .)

Dafoe Hires Law Firm Over Mayor’s Misreporting

Dafoe Hires Law Firm Over Mayor’s Misreporting

Clay Dafoe, third-place finisher in
2012 mayoral election, first to act

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2013
Posted Thursday, March 14, 2013 9:12pm
Corrected Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 9:45pm

Clay DafoeClay Dafoe has followed through on his previously stated intent to take legal action against Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

Bill AleshireThis afternoon, Austin attorney Bill Aleshire of Riggs Aleshire and Ray PC told The Austin Bulldog, “Our law firm has been retained by Clay Dafoe to hold Lee Leffingwell accountable for violating the state campaign finance laws in the mayoral campaign of 2012.”

In a phone interview this evening Aleshire added, “We will let the facts take us where they go and we will not take any action that’s not in good faith.”

“That’s all we have to say at this point,” Aleshire said, “but there will be more later.”

(Disclosure: Aleshire is The Austin Bulldog’s attorney in a Texas Public Information Act lawsuit that is still pending.)

Lee LeffingwellAttempts to reach Mayor Leffingwell this evening for a comment were unsuccessful. A listed home number has been disconnected. A phone call to his chief of staff, Andy Mormon, was not answered. A text message sent to Mormon’s cell phone requesting a comment from the mayor was not promptly answered.

Two phone messages left for Dafoe were not returned. Aleshire later informed The Austin Bulldog that, “Mr. Dafoe will not be commenting directly.”

Grounds for lawsuit

Proposition 3 Advocates Falsely Slam RECA

Proposition 3 Advocates Falsely Accuse RECA

Group alleges ‘rumor’ of $100,000 pledge by Real Estate
Council to defeat Proposition 3, but RECA says not so

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2012
Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2012 10:25pm

An e-mail received early this morning from Austinites for Geographic Representation (AGR), that was titled "A Very Stinky Rumor" turned out to be stinky indeed—as in false.

Or so says the Real Estate Council of Austin.

The AGR e-mail stated, "Rumors are flying that large real estate investors at the Real Estate Council of Austin (RECA) just pledged $100,000 to stop Prop 3—the people's plan for geographic representation—by running a confusion game with Prop 4."

Shea Wants More Contribution Limits, Disclosures

Shea Wants More Contribution Limits and Disclosures

Those Affected Say Shea’s Proposals Would
Further Undermine Candidates’ Campaigns

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog
Posted Tuesday, March 20, 2012 8:22pm

Brigid SheaFormer City Council member and current mayoral candidate Brigid Shea says she wants more limits on—and more disclosure of—contributions made to City Council incumbents and challengers.

At a press conference at City Hall this morning she announced proposals that are far tougher than reforms the Charter Revision Committee has recommended for the City Council to put on the November ballot, including restrictions on bundled campaign contributions.

Bundlers are individuals who solicit and obtain contributions of $200 or more from five or more individuals. The reporting of bundlers’ names in contribution reports is already required by City Code Section 2-2-22.

A chart thatserved as a backdrop for the press conference was titled “Bundling Influence at City Hall.” The chart displayed the names of 13 individuals who bundleda total of $103,900 incontributions detailed in the incumbents’ January 2012 campaign finance reports. Not all of the bundlers listed are currently registered city lobbyists.