The waning days of a campaign always have the greatest potential for hijinx.
A $25,000 political contribution from the owner of a strip club being sued by Harris County lawyers found its way, via the Harris County Deputies Organization, into the campaign coffers of the man challenging Sheriff Adrian Garcia in November, according to campaign finance reports.
Ali Davari, who with his brother Hassan Davari owns a handful of prominent local strip clubs, including Treasures, Gold Cup and Trophy Club, gave $25,000 to the deputies union political action committee on Oct. 15. It was the only contribution the organization received during the time period covered by the report, which was filed Thursday. The union donated the same amount, in its only listed expenditure, to Republican Louis Guthrie’s campaign a week later, earmarking it for political advertising.
Guthrie reports receiving a $25,000 check from the union on Oct. 9; Guthrie’s campaign manager Sara Kinney said the campaign listed that date because that was the date on the check. HCDO Vice President Eric Batton could not explain the discrepancy in the dates.
“The deputies organization, whatever they do is what they do,” Guthrie said. “The fact that they gave me money, I think it’s great they’re behind me and that they’ve endorsed me in this campaign. I can’t control the deputies organization, the money they take in from whomever.”
Guthrie and Batton accused the Houston Chronicle of writing about the contribution to help Garcia, whom the Chronicle editorial board has endorsed for re-election.
Houston political analyst Robert Miller said such pass-though donations are common, such as when donors do not want to publicly oppose an incumbent and donate to a political group instead.
“It’s unusual to see it so clumsily done,” Miller said. “By doing it in this manner and with this timing, they have waved a red flag all over the contribution. It would be evident to most that it’s a contribution from the sexually-oriented business to a sheriff’s candidate.”
For reasons unclear I can’t find the HCDO 8 day report on the County Clerk campaign finance report page. The Garcia campaign sent out an email about this that has a few more details. The reaction to the story by everyone involved tells you pretty much everything you need to know about it.
UPDATE: A copy of the 8 day report is here.