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South Carolina PAC attacks Adler campaign again

Monday, November 3, 2014 by Jo Clifton

The South Carolina-based political action committee that has previously attacked mayoral candidate Steve Adler in anonymous phone calls to Austin voters struck again last week, this time by mail.

The labor union-backed South Forward IE PAC sent out two glossy mail pieces painting Adler, an eminent domain attorney, as a rich man who does not care about “us.”

The pieces, mailed into selected ZIP codes including 78704 and 78703, which covers parts of South Austin and West Austin, have a return address for South Forward in Columbia, South Carolina.

The South Forward IE (independent expenditure) PAC received $10,000 from the Southwest Laborers’ District Council PAC, according to a Federal Election Commission report covering July 1 to Sept. 30. The Southwest Laborers’ District Council is an affiliate body of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, which has endorsed Mike Martinez for mayor.

According to records on file with the Federal Election Commission, the committee had more than $188,000 on hand as of Oct. 23. Those records did not indicate how much money the committee has spent in Texas.

Neither mail piece directs voters to support Martinez or any of the other candidates. The Martinez campaign and the campaign of Sheryl Cole both denied having any knowledge of the phone calls and mailers.

Jim Wick, Adler’s campaign manager, said he was concerned about what this might mean for Austin’s political future.

“We knew there might be a lot of independent expenditures,” Wick said. But the difference between this one and local political action committees is that this one is “virtually anonymous, kind of dark money, because these out-of-state organizations have different reporting requirements.”

Wick continued: “This organization hasn’t complied with local or state laws in terms of reporting requirements. And so they don’t have a treasurer on file with either the state or the city. The law doesn’t say you have to, but they do have to report the expenditure and how much they spent. That hasn’t happened. It’s virtually anonymous money.”

Wick noted that the Federal Election Commission reporting deadlines are different from those of the state or the city, “so we won’t know how much they spent or who gave them money after Oct. 15 until the middle of December. That’s the most troubling part. It’s a virtually anonymous political communication.”

Asked whether these communications might indicate the future of campaigns in Austin, Wick said, “I hope not. You know, if this kind of activity is successful and effective, then I think in the future you might see a lot more of that.”

Mark Posner, who identified himself as the PAC treasurer, did send a letter to the city clerk’s office last week, stating that it would be participating in Texas elections.

 

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