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Ethics commission dismisses another case surrounding PAC expenditures

Friday, February 15, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

In a case that seems eerily similar to one that appeared before the Ethics Review Commission in January, Kathie Tovo’s former campaign manager, Michael J. Gaudini, filed a complaint against the Center for Austin’s Future PAC for improperly filing the required appointment of campaign treasurer. According to city law, an appointment for campaign treasurer must be made at least 60 days prior to making a contribution or expenditure in connection with a city election in order to make expenditures of greater than $2,500. The GPAC, a general purpose political action committee, spent a total of $67,000 for the race, more than $2,500 of which was spent prior to the 60-day mark. Gaudini told the commission that it’s crucial to enforce this regulation because it “sets an important standard for a fair election and fair play.” GPAC counsel Andrew Cates referenced the U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit ruling and the Catholic Leadership Coalition of Texas case from 2014 to argue “that (the case) rules these 60-day layout periods as unconstitutional.” He did say that while the state forms and city forms a PAC is required to fill out are marginally different from each other, since the primary reporting obligation is to the state, the assumption is that the precedent from that case would be considered and any future complaints on that issue would be dismissed outright. As they did in January, the commissioners voted to dismiss the complaint. Commissioner Brian Thompson abstained from the vote.

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