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With finance numbers in, Shade and Tovo trade barbs

Monday, June 13, 2011 by Michael Kanin

City Council incumbent Randi Shade has continued to out-fundraise challenger Kathie Tovo as the battle for Shade’s Place 3 seat has stretched into a runoff. However, according to campaign finance documents filed with the City Clerk’s office late Friday, Tovo closed the money gap significantly with the roughly $64,000 that she received by signing Austin’s fair elections campaign pledge.

 

All told, Tovo collected $128,248. Shade raised nearly $148,000.

 

The release of the reports came with an attack from the Tovo camp and a response from Shade. Tovo campaign manager Mark Yznaga distributed an email on Saturday morning citing donations from the Real Estate Council of Austin and the Home Builders of Greater Austin as evidence that Shade is beholden to development interests.

 

This level of outside special interest spending by the development industry group raises serious questions as to whom Shade is representing,” Yznaga wrote. “The Real Estate Council cash is the biggest special interest spending to date in the Place 3 race, which has seen activity by a large number of ‘independent’ political committees and an increasing number of individually funded ‘independent committees’ supporting Shade.”

 

“We’ve all seen Tovo’s consultants trot out the ‘evil developer’ boogeyman many times over the decades in which they’ve controlled Council elections,” responded Shade, referring to Yznaga and Tovo campaign consultant David Butts. “But voters who are paying attention know that I’m the most independent person on the Council.”

 

The finance reports include detailed information about campaign contributors and proxy fundraisers. Tovo’s collections for the runoff period totaled just over $64,000. According to the documents, she enlisted activist and former Planning Commission colleague Danette Chimenti and Brown McCarroll attorney Nikelle Meade as campaign solicitors – the so-called “bundlers” authorized to collect multiple donations on a candidate’s behalf.

 

Meade bundled funds for both Shade and Tovo and sent out emails to her friends urging them to vote — without specifying which candidate she favored — during both the first campaign and the runoff. Meade has represented Water Treatment Plant 4 contractor Carollo Engineers, as well as many other clients, before the City Council.

 

Notable individual contributors to the Tovo campaign include city critic Brian Rodgers, various members of the environmental community, and Formula 1 critic Richard Viktorin.

 

Shade listed eight bundlers: Armbrust and Brown principal David Armbrust, developer Paul Bury, Austin Yellow Cab General Manager Ed Kargbo, Carollo Engineers Associate Hani Michel, Endeavor Real Estate Group Managing Principal Jeff Newberg, Laurie Swan of Stratus Properties, and Jackson Walker partner Tim Taylor.

 

Notable individual Shade contributors include attorney and Zoning and Platting Commission Secretary Gregory Bourgeois, Balcones Resources CEO Kerry Getter, and Planning Commission Chair David Sullivan.

 

Asked why he supports Shade over his former Planning Commission colleague, Sullivan told In Fact Daily that the election represents a choice between “a good candidate and a better candidate.”

 

“I trust Randi to make tough decisions,” he said.

 

Yznaga wouldn’t comment on Sullivan’s support. Instead, he returned to his concerns about Shade’s report as a whole. “We haven’t gone through it completely yet, but it seems it’s predominantly development community money,” he told In Fact Daily. “It’s very clear what’s going on in this race: They’re trying to buy it.”

 

As of Friday, Tovo had almost $26,000 cash on hand, and Shade had just over $56,000. Tovo loaned herself over $50,000 at the start of her campaign. She added nothing to that total during the runoff period.

 

Early voting continued last week at a quick pace in advance of the June 18th election. As of Saturday, just over 17,000 voters had cast their ballots. Shade has said that a large turnout will benefit her effort.

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