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Campaign finance reports show who’s in the money

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 by Jo Clifton

With only 28 days left until Election Day, Tuesday’s deadline for campaign finance reports arrived with little fanfare. City Council candidates were required to report all money they raised and spent between July 1 and the end of September, and most of their reports were available to view on the city’s website by the end of the day.

The race between District 6 Council Member Don Zimmerman and his only opponent, Jimmy Flannigan, has generated a great deal of interest but not a great deal of money so far, although Flannigan is clearly winning in the fundraising battle. Zimmerman, an outspoken conservative, reported that he had about $30,953 $967 at the time of the last report. (This sentence has been corrected. The previously cited number reflected money in Zimmerman’s office holder account.)
His latest report shows that he had collected nearly $39,000 since July, spent about $59,000 and had about $12,000 in the bank.

Flannigan reported that he had raised $46,652 since July and had more than $31,000 in the bank.

Contributors to Zimmerman’s campaign include Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty and his wife, the Austin Apartment Association’s PAC, real estate broker Kevin Burns, lobbyists Steve Drenner and Michele Rogerson-Lynch, engineer Pinaki Ghosh, the HBA (Home Builders Association) Home PAC, former Austin attorney Terry Irion, investor John Lewis, architect Paul Linehan, Williamson County Commissioner Cynthia Long and 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Justice David Puryear.

Zimmerman told the Austin Monitor that he tried very hard to raise money from outside of Austin but that it was difficult to generate interest in city races outside the state. Zimmerman scored a partial victory last summer when he sued to invalidate Austin’s campaign finance laws but did not overturn the $350 limit on individual contributions.

Flannigan’s contributors include Amy Wong Mok, executive director of the Asian American Cultural Center; Elizabeth Christian, the wife of former Mayor Bruce Todd; Rebecca Melancon, the head of the Austin Independent Business Alliance; Public Citizen’s Kaiba White; philanthropist Melba Whatley; and the Texas United Automobile Workers CAP Volunteer Fund Committee. Other contributors include civic activist David Sullivan and Laurie Swan, vice president at Stratus Properties.

District 10 Council Member Sheri Gallo’s report showed that she had received more than $46,000 in contributions between July 1 and Sept. 29. One of her opponents, Alison Alter, reported raising $60,758; her other opponent, Rob Walker, reported raising only $4,100. Surprisingly, they spent about the same amount, with Walker reporting that he spent $12,370 and Alter reporting that she spent about $13,400.

Alter has wide support among Democratic organizations, although it is not clear how much that will help her in District 10, one of the city’s purple districts.

Alter reported that she still had nearly $50,000 in the bank, while Gallo’s report gave contradictory information on that subject, perhaps because of a software glitch. Although the line showing contributions maintained shows $0, by subtracting expenditures from contributions the Monitor deduced that Gallo still has more than $32,000 in the bank.

District 4 Council Member Greg Casar was proud of the fact that his campaign had raised a total of $114,000 since the kickoff last summer. His latest report shows that he had raised more than $34,000 this period and spent more than $62,000.

Casar noted that he received contributions from Justice of the Peace Randall Slagle and Ron Nirenberg, a City Council member from San Antonio, during a party that Casar’s friends, Chuck Herring and Ginny Agnew, threw for him.

District 4 opponent Louis Herrin reported spending $619.19 but did not apparently receive any contributions. Casar’s other opponent, Gonzalo Camacho, reported raising about $690 and spending about $2,000. His report shows that he received $322.05 from James Skaggs, a pro-roads and anti-light rail Republican.

Council Member Leslie Pool has strong support from labor organizations and environmentalists, among others. She reported collecting nearly $44,000 during this time period and retaining more than $56,000 in the bank. Her opponent is Natalie Gauldin, a supporter of the Grove at Shoal Creek planned unit development.

Former Council members Chris Riley and Randi Shade both contributed to Gauldin as did Steve Simmons, co-owner of Amy’s Ice Creams. Other Gauldin contributors include Phillip Schmandt, former member of the Electric Utility Commission; the HBA Home PAC; downtown advocate Cid Galindo; attorney Roger Borgelt; and the political action committee for the Austin Apartment Association.

Gauldin reported that she had collected $21,285 in contributions but spent more than $32,760 since July, leaving only about $7,800 in the bank.

Pool received contributions from the local branch of the AFL-CIO; Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea; environmentalist Jon Beall; former Judge Charlie Baird; Kurt Cadena-Mitchell, formerly of Austin Interfaith; attorney Bill Aleshire; political consultant David Butts; Melanie Barnes; former Mayor Frank Cooksey; Rick Cofer; former Council Member Betty Dunkerley; Ed English, who ran against Pool in 2014; David Foster of Clean Water Action; environmental attorney David Frederick; longtime parks advocate Linda Guerrero; state lobbyist Jack Gullahorn; presumptive representative Gina Hinojosa; the Austin Police Association; and the Stonewall Democrats.

Pool’s report also shows that attorney Fred Lewis, who helped craft the recent lobby ordinance, gave Pool $350, but she returned $300 to him upon learning that he is a registered lobbyist himself. Lobbyists are allowed to give $25 apiece, as are their spouses.

District 2 Council Member Delia Garza faces two underfunded opponents, Casey Ramos and Wesley Faulkner. Faulkner reported raising about $2,700 and, according to his report, he has about $770 in the bank. There was no report on file last night for Ramos, but his July report showed he had $0 in the bank.

Garza, a former Austin firefighter, has a great deal of support among labor and Democratic organizations. She reported raising about $21,000 since July and still had nearly $17,000 in the bank at the end of September, according to her report.

Photo by Tracy O made available through a Creative Commons license.

The Austin Monitor’s work is made possible by donations from the community. Though our reporting covers donors from time to time, we are careful to keep business and editorial efforts separate while maintaining transparency. A complete list of donors is available here, and our code of ethics is explained here.

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