In today’s column on the unpredictability of local runoff races, Kristin Mack notes a storm brewing in the Council At Large #2 race, now between Jay Aiyer and Sue Lovell:
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) contributed $10,000 to Lovell’s campaign and sent three mailings on her behalf. Aiyer said the mailings and automated phone calls by SEIU violate a city ordinance prohibiting “coordinated campaign expenditures” — direct work on behalf of a candidate by an organization whose expenditures aren’t listed on the candidate’s campaign finance reports.
Lovell’s campaign didn’t send any direct mail and she said it was not expecting SEIU to send mailings on her behalf.
“We were just as surprised as anyone else,” she said. “They wrote a check for $10,000 and that was the last communication we had.”
SEIU, the nation’s second-largest union, is battling the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees to organize city workers. Aiyer’s campaign says SEIU’s effort fits its national pattern of trying to gain a foothold in local government.
“No one entity should be able to influence the outcome of a race like that,” Aiyer said. “They effectively were trying to buy a council seat. It allowed her to use her resources in other places.”
Today, Aiyer filed an ethics complaint against Lovell, stating that the mailers SEIU did on her behalf constitute a violation of Section 18.38 (a) of the Houston City Code of Ordinances. Greg fills in some details. Don’t really have much to add to that except to say that it’s gonna get ugly.
Well, okay, there is one thing. As someone who’s voted in every Democratic primary race – including runoffs! – since, oh, I don’t remember exactly, 1992 or so, what do I have to do to get on the mailing list for stuff like that? I got at least two mailers, not to mention two robocalls, from Poli Acosta, and nada from Sue (or Jay, for that matter). Just curious.