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New Formula 1 committee could face future conflict-of-interest issues

Monday, July 18, 2011 by Josh Rosenblatt

Two weeks after City Council endorsed a controversial plan to bring Formula 1 to Austin, the committee authorized by Council to act on the city’s behalf held their first public meeting Saturday. The Circuit Events Local Organizing Committee will hold the $25 million appropriated by the state for the Major Events Trust Fund, disburse those funds to put on the event, and pay the city’s $4 million share into the fund annually.


The committee is made up of five members, each picked by F1. Sam Bryant is the president of Bryant Wealth Investment Group; Anne Smalling is the president of holding company HM International; Stephanie Richmond is the owner of Richmond International Connections, which consults with businesses on cross-border initiatives between Mexico and Texas; Ford Smith is the president and owner of petroleum products distribution company Texas Enterprises; and Wayne Hollingsworth is a lawyer with Armbrust & Brown, which is the law firm representing Circuit of the Americas, the F1 track currently under construction in Del Valle.


During the meeting Hollingsworth told his fellow committee members that he would recuse himself from any vote that might raise conflict-of-interest questions. He said there are currently no such concerns.


After the meeting, Hollingsworth’s colleague at Armbrust & Brown Richard Suttle (who advocated for the F1 deal before Council) assured members of the media that committee members were chosen for their support of the F1 event.


“We went through to find people that didn’t have a financial interest but had an interest in promoting the event,” said Suttle.


On Saturday, the committee voted unanimously to name Hollingsworth its secretary. They also voted to form a subcommittee made up of Hollingsworth and Smalling to negotiate and execute an Event Support Contract between the committee and F1. In addition, the group voted unanimously to send the Major Events Trust Fund application to the state comptroller seeking the $25 million. 


The comptroller now has 30 days to respond to the committee’s application.

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