The campaign manager for GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott filed an ethics complaint on Thursday alleging that the book tour of Abbott’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth, represents a conversion of political contributions into personal use.
Wayne Hamilton’s complaint to the Texas Ethics Commission claims that Davis converted political contributions to personal use — a violation of the state’s election code — during a trip to New York City this week where she both promoted her book and made a campaign stop.
The campaign filed a request for a formal opinion on the matter from the Texas Ethics Commission earlier this week; a response could take several months.
Davis’ campaign says she used campaign funds to pay for the airfare to and from New York City, while Davis’ book publisher paid for lodging on Sept. 9. A campaign event was held on Sept. 10.
“We were very careful to follow all legal guidelines,” campaign spokesman Zac Petkanas said. “One way you can tell this is a politically motivated and frivolous complaint is that the Abbott campaign filed it today without waiting for the legal opinion they requested on Monday.”
To be perfectly fair, it should be noted that the request for an opinion was about whether the book tour constituted an illegal corporate campaign contribution, whereas this is about whether Davis personally benefited from the use of campaign funds. That doesn’t mean this isn’t frivolous, but it is at least a different topic. The Texas Election Law Blog provides a useful insight on the original matter. As for this one, I’m not a campaign finance expert, and none of the stories I’ve seen so far have asked anyone who is for their opinion. Anyone out there with actual experience want to take a crack at this?
Several months ago, the commission publicly condemned political campaigns’ use of publicizing complaints they made against an opponent.