Texas Ethics Commission
Zimmerman Complaint Finally Resolved
Texas Ethics Commission took more
than two years to settle the matter
by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2017
Posted Monday, June 26, 2017 2:33pm
An ethics complaint against then District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman was resolved by the Texas Ethics Commission June 12, 2017. It took the agency 28 months to get the job done.
The complaint filed February 5, 2015, alleged that Zimmerman illegally used campaign funds to pay his wife $2,000 for work she did for his 2014 council campaign.
The Texas Ethics Commission completed its consideration of the sworn complaint by entering into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with Zimmerman. The document states that Zimmerman acknowledges the prohibition against such expenditures, and he consented to forego adversarial evidentiary hearings and formal adjudication by the Commission.
Zimmerman escaped being fined for the infraction, common in similar cases such as In the Matter of James C. Doyal SC-31108180, because he had personally loaned $20,000 to his campaign and considered the $2,000 payment to his spouse as “partial reimbursement” for the loan.
In essence the Commission allowed Zimmerman to reclassify the campaign funds paid to his wife for her personal services as a partial repayment of a loan that he personally made to his campaign.
In a telephone interview today, Zimmerman told The Austin Bulldog that he had not been aware of the prohibition against paying his wife from campaign fund. This despite the fact that the City Clerk provides copies of applicable regulations to all candidates.
“If I had shacked up with Jennifer, then I could pay her while living in sin. That looks like marriage discrimination,” he said. “Once it was pointed out that the payment was improper, I said, “Fine, I’ll credit that payment against the loan.’ ”