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Ethics violations alleged against Pct. 3 candidate Daugherty

Monday, November 5, 2012 by Michael Kanin

The hotly contested race for Travis County Precinct 3 commissioner has produced at least one set of allegations about campaign ethics violations. According to records obtained by In Fact Daily, Austin attorney Robert “Lou” McCreary filed four complaints with the Texas Ethics Commission about the campaign finance activities of Republican challenger Gerald Daugherty.


The two complaints that appear most serious include an accusation that Daugherty used campaign funds for personal use “after he was no longer in office.” The second says that Daugherty reimbursed “himself for monies spent at Jack Allen’s Kitchen, a restaurant in which he publicly states he is a partner in ownership.”


Two other errors appear to be clerical oversights. Daugherty’s filings leave out the out-of-state Political Action Committee identification number for KOCHPAC, the committee that carries the name of the libertarian-leaning brothers who fund numerous radical rightwing activities. Daugherty has accepted funds from the organization. Daugherty also appears to have neglected to secure a notarization for his April 30, 2012 Candidate/Officeholder filing.


In a brief interview with In Fact Daily on Sunday afternoon, Daugherty said that the allegations were the work of his opponent in the Pct. 3 race, Democrat incumbent Karen Huber. “I think that all this is an allegation,” he said. “If the Ethics Commission has something to say to me, they can call me.”


According to documents filed along with the complaints, Daugherty reimbursed himself for more than $20,000 between Jan. 1, 2009 and Jan. 13, 2011. On campaign filings, Daugherty lists these transactions as either “Schedule G” reimbursements or simply “loan repayment/reimbursement.” On a handful of occasions, he lists no description at all.


The complaint suggests that this could be a violation of two sections of the Texas Election Code.


Along with all of that, the complaint includes documents that illustrate Daugherty’s role in Jack Allen’s, and continues to suggest that he charged his campaign for more than $7,000 worth of food at the establishment. McCreary says that this constitutes a violation of four sections of Texas Election Code.


Daugherty and Huber are locked in what has turned into another nasty – and expensive – campaign. Huber unseated Daugherty in 2008, after he had served six years on the Travis County Commissioners Court. Daugherty, who was a late entry into the race to challenge Huber, has suggested that he decided to run again only after it became clear that Huber would seek re-election.


In the time since this summer’s primary elections settled what seemed to be an inevitable rematch, both campaigns have leveled various charges against each other. Early on Huber had hoped to make the contest to highlight her extensive work on water issues. But Daugherty has managed to force Huber into a more negative effort, with plenty of swinging – and ad space and time – from both sides.


Daugherty’s arguments have settled around traffic, and the potential of State Highway 45 Southwest to alleviate some of the delays in the southern portion of the Pct. 3 jurisdiction. However, it remains unclear whether Daugherty will be able to convince the remainder of the Commissioners Court to construct the controversial road over environmentally sensitive Barton Springs recharge zone that would link MoPac with FM1826.


Huber’s latest volley was connected to the ethics complaints. It came from Democratic operative Mike Clark-Madison in the form of a press release announcing Huber’s reaction to the four complaints – a document that also informed media outlets of their existence. “Daugherty and his campaign may argue that these are harmless oversights, and that Texas election law is complicated and confusing in ways that lead to such mistakes,” the release said. “Unfortunately, managing a major urban county is also complicated, and the voters of Precinct 3 need to be confident that their commissioner knows how to manage programs and funds appropriately and within the requirements of the law.”

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