Candidates catch up on campaign filings

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Five of nine candidates have been more active in the final 30 days of the local campaign for city council and school board.

The final pre-election reporting requirement is eight days prior to Election Day, which made reports due on April 27. These reports should cover contributions and expenses from April 6 – the date of the previous report – through April 27.

In addition to second filings from incumbent Connie Fuller and her challenger Rick Hall in the mayoral race, three school board candidates – Jon Branigan and Anthony Buck in place 5, and Jeff Madison in Place 4 have filed campaign finance reports.

Fuller reported $250 in contributions during the final filing period, to go with $3,256.11 in expenditures. Expenses included advertising with The Independent ($2,690), the US Post Office ($200), and postcards from Digitex ($366.11).

Hall did not report any contributions for the filing period and $375 in expenses at HEB ($32.25), Amazon ($75.72), Elena’s Mexican Restaurant ($14), the US Post Office ($162.69), Facebook ($16.24), and Dahlia Cafe ($74).

Branigan, who filed with the school district on April 27, reported $220 in political contributions, including $50 each from Clyde Davis and Hagan Dial, and $20 from Pax Figioli, within the Liberty Hill ISD boundaries. Branigan also contributed $100 to his campaign. His reported total expenditures were $1,937.68, but the report did not itemize expenses.

Buck, who also filed with the school district April 27, reported no political contributions and $575.69 in expenditures, all from personal funds. His expenses included $160 with The Independent for advertising, $361.56 with UZ Marketing in Houston for printing and $54.13 at Office Depot for printing and business card expenses.

Madison filed with the district on April 17, reporting $2,106.47 in total expenses from personal funds for the period covering March 1 to April 4. In a subsequent filing on May 1, he reported additional expenses of $1,455 bringing his campaign total to $3,561.47, but the report did not itemize expenses.

Only two of the nine candidates – Fuller and Hall – initially filed the standard campaign finance report required by the state 30 days prior to the election.

The other seven candidates each signed the modified candidate reporting declaration when they filed to run, declaring they would not raise or spend in excess of $500 throughout the campaign.

The three school board candidates’ filings have come since that initial 30-day deadline.

If any candidate filing the modified declaration exceeds the $500 limit in fundraising – including personal contributions to their own campaign – or expenditures, they are required to file the standard campaign finance form within 48 hours of exceeding the $500 limit, according to Ian Steusloff with the Texas Ethics Commission.

City council candidates must file reports with the city secretary, while school board candidates file reports with the superintendent’s office.

According to the Texas Ethics Commission, “a person who files a report late or fails to file a report is subject to a late-filing penalty. The late-filing penalty in connection with most reports is $500. For a report due eight days before an election or for the first semiannual report due after a primary or general election, the late filing penalty is $500 for the first day the report is late and $100 a day for each day thereafter that the report is late. Also, any citizen may file a criminal complaint with the district attorney, a civil complaint with the Ethics Commission, or a civil action against a candidate or officeholder for violations of Title 15. Any penalty stemming from such complaints would be assessed against the candidate or officeholder, not the campaign treasurer.”

More information on filing requirements can be found online from the Texas Ethics Commission, at www.ethics.state.tx.us.

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