City Charter

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Zimmerman Lawsuit Not First Challenge

District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman sued the city to challenge not only contribution limits (currently $350) but several other restrictions on campaign finance.

Council Member Zimmerman Sues City

 Council Member Zimmerman Sues City

Wants to overturn campaign finance restrictions
and could gain himself a direct personal benefit

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2015
Posted Wednesday July 29, 2015 2:02am
Updated Wednesday August 5, 2015 10:46am (Houston court’s injunction was temporary, not permanent)

District 6 Council Member Don ZimmermanDon Zimmerman had a long history of filing lawsuits even before he won election to the District 6 seat on the Austin City Council last December.

In fact, while a candidate he sued The Austin Bulldog for defamation last October, lost the case in early January, and still owes $10,000 in attorney’s fees and sanctions for filing a baseless lawsuit. More than six months later he has not paid the debt despite efforts to collect.

Now he’s filed a federal lawsuit to overturn several aspects of the rules under which he ran for and won office. In his latest lawsuit filed July 27, 2015, Zimmerman seeks to eliminate or modify restrictions on political fundraising found in Article III Section 8 of the Austin City Charter.

The lawsuit explicitly states that Zimmerman seeks to eliminate these restrictions to prepare for his campaign for reelection in November 2016.

Jerad Najvar“Political speech is the very core of the First Amendment, but Austin’s campaign finance system seeks to control debate by controlling fundraising and spending,” said attorney Jerad Najvar of the Houston-based Najvar Law Firm, in a prepared statement. He represents Zimmerman in this lawsuit. “The result is that everybody in the world is free to speak, except for City candidates themselves.”

Campaign finance experts—and even seasoned political consultants who run Austin mayoral and city council elections—say rolling back the restrictions that Austin voters overwhelmingly approved in two City Charter elections would be a disaster for democracy at the local level. (More about that later.)

Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative has in effect sued his employer, the City of Austin, which will have to spend money to defend the City Charter.

What the lawsuit seeks

Massive Interest in Redistricting

City auditor’s forum draws standing-room crowd to brainstorm how to attract applicants.

Proposed Districting Timeline Draws Flak

  • Proposed Districting Timeline Draws Flak
  • Redistricting expert says schedule does not
  • allow enough time for federal approval process
  • by Ken Martin
  • © The Austin Bulldog 2012
  • Posted Tuesday, December 4, 2012 3:37pm

Ken MoryCity Auditor Ken Mory and his chief of investigations, Jason Hadavi, briefed the Austin City Council in this morning’s work session, including proposed dates for accomplishing major tasks related to establishing 10 council districts, as approved by voters November 6. (The core of the briefing is contained in the City Auditor’s Slides for City Council Briefing.)

The briefing took place in advance of tonight’s related public forum that starts 7pm in One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325. (To see a map, click here.) The purpose of the forum is to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.

The schedule proposed by the City Auditor indicates that the CIRC would adopt a final plan for the 10 geographic districts by April 1, 2014.

Attorney Steve Bickerstaff, who has represented more than a hundred jurisdictions on redistricting in his long legal career, told The Austin Bulldog that April 1, 2014, is not soon enough.

Citizens Redistricting Forum December 4

City Auditor Ken Mory announced a public forum will be held to encourage participation in the Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission (CIRC) and secure a large and diverse pool of qualified applicants.