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Lewis says he simply made a mistake

Wednesday, October 23, 2019 by Jo Clifton

Fred Lewis, a leader of the group promoting passage of Proposition B, which would require a public vote on any expansion of the convention center, told the Austin Monitor Tuesday he simply made a mistake when he filled out the most recent report for the political action committee Unconventional Austin. Mark Littlefield, who opposes Prop B, filed a complaint with the city clerk’s office calling Unconventional Austin’s Oct. 7 filing illegal because it failed to report the expenditure on time and on the correct form. As we reported Monday, Unconventional Austin reported in a campaign filing that Vici Media spent $3,000 on Facebook ads for the PAC on Sept. 12. It was labeled an “advertising expense.” Such an expenditure would have required the filing of a special form within two days of the expenditure. However, Lewis said Vici actually conducted a poll, which cost $2,000, and bought a Facebook ad to attract people to participate in that poll. Lewis provided an invoice from Vici Media to Michael Searle showing that Vici charged $2,000 for the Unconventional Austin poll page and $783.67 for the Facebook ad related to the poll. The invoice is marked paid. Searle, a former aide to Ellen Troxclair and a member of the board of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, received the bill as CEO of Aro Group, LLC. However, Lewis said the organization paid the bill, not Searle. According to Unconventional Austin’s Oct. 7 report, Searle loaned the PAC $9,200 on Sept. 26. Lewis told the Monitor he plans to file a correction to the Oct. 7 report to make clear that Vici Media was just a vendor, not a donor, and that the money was primarily for a poll, not advertising. Lewis said the complaint was filed to call attention to the use of the Republican pollster because of Austinites’ tendencies to see things in terms of their different tribes. Other contributors to the PAC include former Council Member Ora Houston and neighborhood leader Mary Ingle.

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