I have three things to say about this.
A year ago, Taxpayers for Financial Accountability campaigned against Houston’s Proposition 1, which called for a pay-as-you-go fund to shore up the city’s drainage infrastructure in part through a monthly fee on homes and businesses.
They lost. The measure narrowly passed and the first bills went out in July.
This year the committee is still campaigning against the measure, this time by endorsing a slate of city candidates who opposed Proposition 1.
The problem is, according to a complaint filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, you can’t do both. Taxpayers for Financial Accountability was formed as a specific purpose committee, which means it can spend money on a cause or on candidates it names at the time of its formation. General purpose committees can change their focus each election, but there’s more paperwork and rules and donors required to form them.
A campaign manager for a candidate who didn’t get the endorsement of Taxpayers for Financial Accountability says the group is violating the law by acting outside its specific purpose in promoting eight candidates in a mailer being distributed this weekend.
“I believe we’re staying in our purpose by promoting the idea that the rain tax is regressive and a huge tax increase,” said Robert Glaser, the committee’s treasurer. “We’re recognizing folks who have the same point of view that we do.”
But even Paul Bettencourt, a leading figure of a separate committee that opposed Prop. 1, has distanced himself from the mailer and called it “stupid” because of the apparent violation of the election code.
1. When even a shameless opportunist like Paul Bettencourt says you’ve crossed a line, you’ve probably crossed a line. I can’t find the exact statute that’s relevant here, but it seems to that this isn’t isn’t a particularly subtle distinction. If this is allowable, then I don’t see what the point of being a special purpose committee is. Hope you guys have some money put aside for the fine you’re going to be levied, fellas.
2. I continue to be mystified by the level of animosity some people have towards the drainage fee, and I continue to wait for these opponents to tell me what their alternate solution for Houston’s drainage and flooding problems would be. If you don’t think we have a problem that needs to be solved, be honest enough to say so. If you believe you have a better solution than the one we voted on last year, tell me what it is. Prop 1 opponents did neither last year, and they’re still doing neither now.
3. Speaking of voting, I’m quite sure that every candidate on this slate has said something about the need to “respect the will of the voters” in regard to the red light camera referendum. Why isn’t there the same need to respect the will of the voters on Prop 1?