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Posts Tagged ‘campaign finances’

Someone really doesn’t like the Paxton case judge

It’s dirty tricks time. An anonymous campaign-like piece of mail has begun appearing in Texas attacking the judge overseeing Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal securities fraud trial, discrediting the Tarrant County jurist who has said he plans to stay with the case as it moves to Houston this fall. The sepia tone flier that alleges […]

Stockman trial delayed

Alas. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman’s trial on federal corruption charges has been pushed back to next year. The trial, originally scheduled to begin June 5, will now kick off on Jan. 29, 2018, according to an order issued Wednesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal. Stockman’s lawyer had requested the delay last week, […]

Stockman trial date set

Mark your calendar. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman is set to go to trial June 5 on federal corruption charges. Stockman, a Houston-area Republican, has pleaded not guilty to charges of funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars in charitable donations to himself and his congressional campaign. He was arraigned Monday. The trial is expected to […]

Stockman pleads not guilty

And we’re off. Standing tall, with his hands hanging loosely at his sides, former U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman told a federal magistrate in Houston Monday he understood the criminal charges against him and pleaded not guilty to theft of about $800,000 in charitable donations intended for conservative organizations and associated charges. Upon Stockman’s request, U.S. […]

Steve Stockman claims he’s broke

Pobrecito. Former Congressman Steve Stockman told a federal magistrate Wednesday he can’t afford to pay for a lawyer to represent him against allegations he helped steal about $800,000 in charitable donations intended for conservative organizations. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson agreed to appoint a lawyer for him and postponed a hearing on his case until […]

Supreme Court hears TDP-KSP appeal

Here‘s a little blast from the past. A meandering legal dispute between Texas Democrats and a Houston tea party group has landed before the Texas Supreme Court in a case that could overturn longtime election laws that require certain political committees to disclose donors and ban direct political contributions from corporations. Arguing before the court […]

Former HISD Trustee Marshall found liable in civil bribery lawsuit

Ouch. A bribery lawsuit that kept a cloud of suspicion over the Houston school district for six years ended Wednesday with a jury finding that former board president Larry Marshall participated in a kickback scheme that caused millions of dollars in damages to a local construction contractor. The civil jury decided in favor of the […]

MUDs and debt

Another story about the least-understood form of debt and taxation in Texas. In Houston’s conservative suburbs, where local governments are loath to raise taxes, the thankless task of hiking revenues has fallen to hundreds of so-called municipal utility districts created for developers to finance water and sewage systems, roads and other amenities. These MUDs, as […]

Council approves proposed finance law changes

That was easy. City Council approved changes to Houston’s campaign finance law Wednesday with no discussion, effectively doubling contribution limits per general election cycle and boosting the amount many candidates can reimburse themselves for personal loans. The revisions, which go into effect Friday, are meant to clarify rules left unclear after the court struck down […]

Mayor proposes raising contribution limits

Not sure how I feel about this. Incumbents and wealthy candidates would get more of an advantage under proposed changes to Houston’s campaign finance law, which would effectively double contribution limits per general election cycle and allow many candidates who pour money into their own campaigns to recoup more of that cash. The modifications, reviewed […]

Another FEC complaint filed against Cruz

We’re up to two. The Texas Democrats have filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging presidential contender Sen. Ted Cruz and his associates violated campaign finance laws. The complaint, dated April 22, asserts that Cruz national co-chair, J. Keet Lewis, broke election laws at an official campaign fundraiser in December by asking attendees […]

The Rodeo had an extra clown this year

OK, it was a rodeo in Mississippi, but I wasn’t going to ruin a good headline. The point is, that clown’s name was Sid Miller. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller used a combination of taxpayer money and campaign funds to fly to Mississippi last year to compete in a rodeo for prize money, according to […]

How is Ken Paxton paying for his defense?

Nobody really knows. Well, nobody who isn’t Ken Paxton, anyway. How Paxton is paying for his criminal defense — a legal tab estimated to easily exceed a million dollars — is one of the ongoing puzzles in the case against the state’s top lawyer. Beyond confirming he would not use campaign contributions or taxpayer dollars, […]

Lee’s campaign finances

Among other things, Commissioner El Franco Lee leaves behind a lot of money in his campaign finance account. When Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee died unexpectedly Sunday, he left friends and allies in mourning, political hopefuls jockeying for his job and an uncommonly large campaign war chest of nearly $4 million. What happens to […]

The incumbents’ advantage

Is it about to become that much harder to vote incumbent city officials out of office? The already difficult task of ousting incumbent Houston officeholders likely has become even tougher. City elected officials now have an extended runway to accumulate cash before returning to the campaign trail, thanks to a voter-approved extension of term limits […]

On judicial elections and campaign finance

Ross Ramsey raises an interesting point. It might seem silly to elect people who promise they won’t represent you, their political party or their donors, but that’s what we expect judges to do. They’re supposed to apply the law, and if they do any of those other things, they’re probably out of line. Florida elects […]

Ethics reform dies its expected death

The only surprise is that it took this long. With no collective will to expose dark money contributions in Texas, a major ethics overhaul was snuffed out in the waning hours of the 2015 legislative session. “It’s dead,” Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said Saturday afternoon. “When the Senate chose not to include campaign disclosure reform […]

Feldman’s parting memo

Outgoing City Attorney David Feldman shares his thoughts on the state of the city’s campaign finance rules as he makes his exit. City Hall began its attempt to use a federal court ruling declaring its own election rule unconstitutional to its advantage it in a second, unrelated suit in a letter this week. In the […]

City does a 180 on campaign finances

Not all losses in court are created equal. City officials will argue that the city’s election ordinance is unconstitutional as part of a strategy to strengthen their position in a lawsuit that could shape the early stages of this year’s mayor’s race. After defending the city Monday in civil court, City Attorney David Feldman said […]

Injunction granted against Houston fundraising blackout period

It’s a whole new ballgame out there. A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a law limiting when candidates in Houston municipal elections can raise money, prompting a scramble to contact donors sooner than campaigns had intended. The injunction, two months after a City Council candidate said the law infringed on his constitutional rights, could […]

First city campaign finance lawsuit action this week

As you may recall, City Council candidate Trebor Gordon filed a lawsuit last month alleging that the city of Houston’s campaign fundraising blackout period was illegal. This week, a federal judge is expected to rule on a request for a temporary injunction that would suspend that ordinance. In court filings, Gordon argues that the abridged […]

Great moments in false equivalence

The headline reads Money from disputed tax bills flowing to candidates for top tax chief, and then the story tells us that more than 99% of that money is going to one of those candidates. Business entities and taxpayers are pumping thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of candidates who, if elected state comptroller, […]

Steve Stockman’s ongoing FEC issues

“Steve Stockman” and “ethical issues” go together like peanut butter and jelly. For a congressman who has overseen four campaign committees in two decades, Rep. Steve Stockman is having a hard time dissolving his troubled congressional campaign. Now a lame duck, the Clear Lake Republican first tried on April 16 to terminate Friends of Congressman […]

The money is the problem

A story of interest from North Carolina. The ad first appeared on television the Friday before last, a black-and-white spot charging that Justice Robin Hudson coddled child molesters and “sided with the predators” in a North Carolina Supreme Court dissent. It has run constantly since. As notable as the ad’s content and frequency, though, is […]

Alameel wants a refund

Good luck with that. Just like his first run for office in 2012, David Alameel’s second bid for public office is drawing questions about his past campaign donations. Alameel, the owner of a multimillion-dollar chain of dental clinics that caters to Hispanics, is one of five Democrats vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held […]

Stockman and Bitcoin

Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me. U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman, a Friendswood Republican with a history of flouting campaign finance laws, entered a new legal gray area this week when he announced his campaign can now accept donations in Bitcoin, a private virtual currency. Stockman, who is challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas in this […]

Judge Pratt update

The most embattled Family Court judge in Harris County is still on the ballot, in case you were wondering. Embattled state District Court Judge Denise Pratt, accused of falsifying court records to cover up tardy rulings, intends to remain on the ballot to face the voters, her lawyer says. In late October, the Harris County […]

On PACs in city elections

Houston Politics looks at something we haven’t seen much of in city elections – PACs that are candidate-specific instead of being centered on a referendum. Among the topics bandied about last week was why [Ben] Hall and District A candidate Brenda Stardig (who is seeking to regain the seat she lost in 2011 to current […]

Abbott and CPRIT

From the Things Greg Abbott Should Have Been Doing Instead Of Filing All Those Lawsuits Against The Obama Administration, But Didn’t Do department. In the more than four years he served on the state cancer agency’s governing board, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott exercised no oversight as the agency made misstep after misstep in awarding […]

More leftover campaign cash

The Chron writes about a subject I’ve covered before. Former Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of Houston used leftover campaign funds to buy a life membership in the National Rifle Association. Former Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas paid a $6,000 Federal Election Commission fine. Former Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land hired a media consultant. And former […]

Politicians come and go, but campaign cash is forever

It seems that way, anyway. With the defeat of several incumbents in last week’s primaries, there’s a lot more unneeded campaign war chests lying around. Millions in unspent contributions have long lurked in former state lawmakers’ campaign bank accounts, often sitting idle until the cash eventually works its way back into the political system. There […]

HISD considers revamping ethics rules

This all seems like a good idea. Houston school trustees, who now may accept campaign cash from anyone at any time, would face new restrictions under a proposal meant to curb improper influence in the school district’s business deals. The new rules, slated for board consideration next week, would bar a trustee from taking contributions […]

Will the Lege change the rules about corporate campaign contributions?

I think the answer to that question is probably “No”, but given the Citizens United ruling and the effect it had in the 2010 election, one cannot rule it out. Immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the Texas Ethics Commission, acting within state law, issued rules for individual corporations or unions to disclose their […]

Here come the nukes

Alas. Texas can import low-level radioactive waste from 36 other states, a commission run jointly by Texas and Vermont decided Tuesday in Andrews County. The Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission vote was a decisive victory for Waste Control Specialists, a company owned by a politically connected billionaire that has shaken off a series of […]