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Kim consultant files complaint on Shade

Friday, May 2, 2008 by Mark Richardson

Place 3 City Council candidates Jennifer Kim and Randi Shade – and their campaign consultants – continue to take potshots at each other in their hard-fought campaign. Thursday’s salvo came in the form of a complaint from the Kim camp over Shade’s apparent failure to properly report “bundled” campaign contributions in her last campaign finance report filed April 10.


Some households also received a Kim campaign mail piece saying that Shade’s campaign was being managed by a “City Hall insider” who will only become more powerful if she is elected. Shade’s campaign consultant, Mark Nathan, shot back, sending In Fact Daily copies of emails he exchanged with Kim in June of 2007 in which Kim asked Nathan to work on her upcoming re-election campaign. He declined, stating his reasons via email.


Nathan has worked for Mayor Will Wynn, Mayor Pro Tem Betty Dunkerley and Council Members Lee Leffingwell, Sheryl Cole and Mike Martinez. 


Meanwhile, the Shade campaign has done a riff on the Visa commercial that enumerates some of Kim’s office expenditures: executive coaching and personality tests $1,800, airline “President’s Club” passes $1,200, (etc) down to  “executive rollerball” ink pens at $59 each. Getting reelected to the City Council anyway: priceless. That mail piece hit households Thursday.


Practically every media outlet in town did a story on Kim’s office expenses, including In Fact Daily, the AmericanStatesman, KVUE, KEYE, and KTBC. Each is quoted in the mail piece along with photos of Kim’s office receipts from retailers like Crate & Barrel, Sharper Image, Foley’s, Pottery Barn, and . . . Wal-Mart.  


The ethics complaint, filed Thursday by Kim campaign consultant Elliott McFadden, says that Shade received multiple campaign contributions from two businesses and the Armbrust & Brown law firm. McFadden alleges based on the date and number of contributions that someone in those firms was bundling, that is, collecting checks and delivering them together in a “bundle.” This is legal but the city requires such contributions to be reported as being “bundled.”


In a news release, McFadden accused Shade of trying to hide where her support was coming from.


“This begs the question of what Shade is hiding by not reporting this information.” McFadden said. We have firms involved in unpopular projects, which Jennifer Kim has opposed, like tax giveaways for corporate retail, the Wal-Mart at Northcross, and billboards on scenic roadways, and Randi Shade appears to be hiding her direct association with these firms.”


McFadden was referring to contributions from the Endeavour Group, which developed the Domain but no longer owns it; the law firm of Armbrust & Brown, which represented Lincoln Properties in the Northcross-Wal-Mart case, and Reagan National Advertising, the largest billboard advertising firm in the city.


Shade campaign comptroller Susan Harry issued a statement Thursday night, saying “It was an honest oversight on the part of our campaign.  We determined this afternoon that we had four people who met the criteria of a bundler in the last reporting cycle, and we will be amending that report tomorrow.  We will also be reporting two new bundlers in our new report, due tomorrow.”


Shade campaign consultant Nathan was somewhat less contrite.

“Mistakes happen, as the Kim campaign well knows,” he said in a prepared statement. “In January, Kim’s campaign failed to correctly report their campaign expenditures, and failed twice to report expenses they had incurred during the first reporting period. I’m not sure it’s a mistake, though, that Kim has failed to report any in-kind contributions at all during this campaign, which leaves me wondering who paid for her March 16th RECA fundraiser at Ranch 616, or the rest of her fundraising events for that matter.”

Referencing the January episode, Nathan points out the Kim campaign’s reaction to being told there were errors in the campaign filing.

“Regardless, given today’s complaint by Kim’s campaign and the relentless negative attacks we’ve seen since Elliott McFadden resumed his role as Kim’s lead consultant last week, it’s hard to ignore the irony of his remarks in January when we pointed out Kim’s own filing errors,” Nathan said.

He quoted McFadden from an In Fact Daily report at that time. “We’re not about nitpicking people on little things like that.  We’re about a positive vision for the city. Randi doesn’t have anything to talk about besides little bitty errors. . . . . Basically while Jennifer is talking about a positive vision for the city Randi seems to be focusing on petty attacks.”

Mail piece attacks Shade consultant

The campaign mailer Kim sent out this week shows a hand with strings holding up a sign representing Randi Shade. The text reads: “Randi Shade’s Chief Advisor is Developer’s Lobbyist.”  The flip side of the card continues the puppet-on-a-string theme, and asks, “If Randy Shade is Elected, Who Will be Pulling the Strings.”

The jab appears aimed at Nathan, but does not name him. It calls Shade’s top campaign adviser a “powerful City Hall insider and developer lobbyist who already advises several Council members.”  It claims that electing Shade would “increase his access to power and help his developer friends.”

In response to the apparent criticism by the Kim Campaign, Nathan sent In Fact Daily a copy of emails from 2007 between he and Kim in which they discussed his working for her re-election.

In a message sent on July 13, after a June meeting between the two, Nathan wrote to Kim, saying he could not support her campaign because she had accomplished little in her first term because she could not work with other Council Members. Nathan’s email said Kim had vilified her colleagues in a letter to the American-Statesman editor regarding the Wal-Mart at Northcross.

“I really don¹t care if you’re unpopular at City Hall,“ he said “I do care that you’ve been largely unable to accomplish anything meaningful for Austin as a result.  Of course, that’s only my opinion, and I know you feel differently.”

Kim responded that her letter did not vilify her colleagues, as Nathan had stated. “There are issues of mutual interest where we work together well,” she wrote. “However, this is a case where we just don’t see eye-to-eye on tactics nor agree on what the fall out will be from Lincoln Properties’ project.”

Commenting on the Kim mailer Thursday night, Nathan said:

“This latest Kim attack may be the most hypocritical one yet, since she and I both know that she sat across the table from me at Upper Crust Bakery last June and asked me to work for her re-election campaign. At this point, I think Jennifer Kim’s relentless negative attacks on anyone and everyone associated with Randi Shade is only serving to demonstrate that Kim would have a very tough time working with a whole lot of people if she were to be re-elected.”

So just how did the Shade campaign get hold of the attack ad mailer? The copy provided to In Fact Daily – an electronic scan – was addressed to “The Shade Household.” Apparently, someone in the Kim campaign failed to screen the mailing list.

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