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Campaign finance reports may be a bit more interesting this cycle

And by “interesting”, I mean in the Chinese curse sense. From the city’s campaign finance reports page:

BagOfMoney

In April 2015, the Texas Ethics Commission released a new Electronic Filing Application. The changes made have to do with the separation of the types of contributions and political expenditures. Though these changes are minor, they require substantial modification to the databases that facilitate the electronic filings that campaigns will be making.

The Mayor’s Office, City Secretary, Legal Department, and the Houston Information Technology Services Department are working diligently to modify the database in a way that will allow electronic filings that comply with the amended TEC requirements. We do not currently have that database available, and will be providing daily updates to enumerate the status of the database reconstruction. In the meantime, if you intend to file before the deadline of July 15th at 5 p.m., the only current option available will be to file by paper in the City Secretary’s office. To produce a report that will satisfy the requirements enumerated by the TEC, you can go here to file as a local candidate and print the PDF, which you can then submit to the City Secretary’s Office in person, or via email at citysecretary@houstontx.gov. The instructions on how to file are enumerated by the photo set below. The Texas Ethics Commission has also issued detailed instructions and troubleshooting information available here.

Until further notice, the City of Houston will not be enforcing Chapter 18 Sections 18-103 and 18-104.

If you have any questions, you may email Steven David in the Mayor’s Office at steven.david@houstontx.gov, or Danielle Folsom in the Legal Department at danielle.folsom@houstontx.gov.

Otherwise, we will update this site once daily to show the current status of the database and its ability to receive electronic filings.

As of 07.14.2015 at 9:00am, the filing database is not working.

Via Campos, who reports that campaigns were informed about this last Thursday. I don’t know what this will mean exactly from my perspective as someone who examines finance reports and posts them to a webpage, but it definitely looks like they won’t be appearing just yet – usually by this point there are at least a few early filers up, but there has been nada so far this year – and at the very least I’ll have to get used to a new look. On the plus side, it may make it easier to add up the in-kind donations, which as we have discussed may make a current report or two look different than it sounds. We’ll see about that. All I know for now is that I want to see ’em, and I wish this could have gone better. Maybe by the time the 30 day reports are due, I hope.

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6 Comments

  1. Paul Kubosh says:

    My understanding from last nights debate that only Turner and Bell said they were for removing the revenue cap.

    For all of you tax people out there you have your candidates.

  2. Ross says:

    So, Paul, what’s your solution, given that the only place you can make changes that affect the need for property taxes is in the general fund, and public safety is 57% of general fund expenditures.

  3. Mainstream says:

    I think the United Republicans of Harris County debate at the Mendenhall Center last night will soon be available on YouTube, so those interested can watch in detail.

  4. Paul kubosh says:

    Well ross that is above my pay grade. I am just waiting to see if anyone shoves the revenue cap issue diwn thier throats. This political stuff can be fun to watch.

  5. Ross says:

    So far, I haven’t heard any real suggestions from the pro cap folks other than “spend smarter”. I don’t think they live in the real world.

  6. Steven Houston says:

    I know this comes as no surprise to anyone here but coverage of the mayoral debates is terrible, I look forward to seeing the Youtube video from the other day in front of United Republicans; each candidate changing enough of their spiel to prove they are pandering like the public are collectively idiots. Given how few views present Youtube videos on past debates show, I concur that people as a whole are not paying much attention yet.

    PK, removing the cap without restriction won’t help because no one will elect a candidate that refuses to give them what they WANT, rather than what they are willing to pay for. Removing the cap with some generic restriction that the monies had to be used by public safety or to pay off debt would merely cause another shuffle of existing planned spending so other frills could be purchased.

    Each fund, be it the general fund, a particular enterprise fund, each TIRZ, and so on down the line, brings in revenue. Over the years, legal experts hired by elected city officials have issued opinions on how money raised by X for Y can magically be spent on Z under the right circumstances. As state law provides no sanctions for this shuffling (legislators actually encouraging it by the way), it will continue just as the whole “residency in name only” issue continues to plague us. While every dollar brought in by every source cannot presently be applied to ANY city expense, the trend has continued to show it is a great deal more flexible than it used to be and will continue.

    As such Ross, I suggest some of the major plans for new park upgrades, transit centers, and other big expenses be put on hold for a few years to catch up on enough debt to make any projects more affordable, the recent troubles with oil already lowering the costs of construction with many more opportunities to come.