Thursday, April 8, 2010

Possible Problem with Tejano Democrats Contribution to Gonzalez

As previously seen here on The Lion Star Blog, the local chapter of the Tejano Democrats donated $1000 to Naomi Gonzalez. The organization also donated $500 each to Justice of the Peace candidate Brian Haggerty and candidate for District Clerk Norma Favela. That's a total of $1500 in contributions.

According to guidelines set forth for campaign finance by the state ethics commission, this contribution doesn't appear to have been done in accordance with the established campaign rules. (Look for the section entitled "Filing an Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer")

In a nutshell the rules say that "A group becomes a political committee by its actions, not by filing an appointment of campaign treasurer. A political committee must have a campaign treasurer appointment on file, however, before it may engage in certain activity. This section explains the circumstances under which a political committee is required to file a campaign treasurer appointment. A political committee may appoint a campaign treasurer at any time, even if it is not required to do so, but if it does so it must file periodic reports."

To date, the El Paso chapter of the Tejano Democrats have not filed a report of the contribution, but Gonzalez did list the donation on her last finance report.

Additionally the rules state "A specific-purpose political committee may not knowingly make political expenditures that exceed $500 without filing a campaign treasurer appointment. Also, a political committee may not make campaign expenditures totaling more than $500 to support or oppose a candidate in an election for a statewide office, the State Legislature, the State Board of Education, or a multi-county district office unless the political committee's treasurer appointment was filed at least thirty days before the election".

I spoke with both Norma Favela and Brian Haggerty regarding the possible violation and both candidates indicated that they had not cashed the check given to them by the El Paso chapter of the Tejano Democrats.

"I need it, but not that badly. I need some clarification first." replied Favela who is in a run-off against the incumbent District Clerk Gilbert Sanchez.

The organization voted in favor of allocating the $1500 in funds to the candidate at their monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 30th. Favela and Haggerty were in attendance, Gonzalez was not.

Gonzalez was awarded the check the following Saturday at ceremony on the corner of Delta and Alameda attended by 20 or so of her supporters and members of the Tejano Democrats. Also in attendance were long-time Tejano Democrats Yolanda Clay, Blanche Darly, and for State Representative Paul Moreno.

The organization voted to give $1000 to Gonzalez because she was vying for a state-level office. The candidates that received money from the Tejano Democrats were also endorsed by the Tejanos in the primary election and are all facing a run-off.

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