Hall hauls in additional $7,700 in campaign funds

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN
In the race for campaign funds, Mayor Rick Hall far outpaced challenger Liz Branigan, raising $19,300 to her $1,380.

In the last three weeks alone, Hall has brought in $7,700, primarily thanks to a $6,250 contribution from Georgetown resident Joe Savage. In October, he also received $1,000 from Coy Lechow, $200 from former Liberty Hill EDC Board President Bill Chapman and $250 from Corey Ross, the pastor at Williamson County Cowboy Church.

Branigan reported that she had received no additional contributions in October.

The majority of Hall’s contributions have come from individuals or organizations tied to the development community. The 16 prior contributions include: $1,500 from Larkspur, which is a Milestone development, $1,000 from Coffin Investment, and $500 from 1941 LTD.

The Coffin Investment company profile provides an address on Ronald Reagan Boulevard, and identifies Philip Coffin as a principal. A group of siblings from the Kauffman family are identified as the partners in 1941 LTD, and is tied to 285 acres located between Liberty Hill and Georgetown at the intersection of Ronald Reagan Blvd and Highway 29.

Both Coffin Investment and 1941 LTD have been granted 380 Development agreements by the Liberty Hill City Council in the last two months. Hall did not recuse himself from discussions of those agreements and while he admits he participating in meetings on the issues, he did not specify the level of his involvement.

“The development agreements are handled by the staff and legal counsel and are sent to me to present to City Council for approval,” he wrote in a previous e-mail when questioned on development negotiations. “As I have no vote on any of these or any other items I am just providing the information to the council for them to make the decision on.”

The agreement with 1941 LTD was the renewal and change of an existing agreement dating back to about 2005, Hall said, and does open the door for more tax revenues for the City if the property is developed. The agreement approved Monday with Coffin Investment was to lock in previous LUE (Living Unit Equivalency) rates that were in place when negotiations began. Those rates have since been raised.

Four other donors – Wyatt Henderson, David Howell, John Marlin and Robert Wunsch – donated $500 each and are all affiliated with MA Partners and the MorningStar subdivision, also near the Ronald Reagan and SH 29 intersection.

Omega Ranch, a project of MA Partners has also been before the Council for action this year.

Steve Bamsch, a Realtor with Keller Williams in Georgetown, contributed $1,000 and Amy Renee Andrews contributed $500. A pair of attorneys – Joshua Kahn and Julianne Bremer Kugle – affiliated with SKLaw contributed $375 each. The top donor for Hall was James Jacobs at $2,500.

Branigan’s campaign contributions total $1,380 and include $200 she contributed to her own campaign, and $200 from her son, Jon Branigan. Other donors include $40 from Marianne Laughlin, $200 from former Liberty Hill Planning Director Jim Bechtol, and $100 from former City Council member Ron Rhea and his wife Donna. Branigan’s top donor is former Liberty Hill City Administrator Greg Boatright and his wife Debbie for $500. Branigan had three later contributions totaling $190 from former Mayor Connie Fuller ($100), Paula D’Osorgua ($50) and Carol Lucio ($40).

Expenditures
The majority of Hall’s funds have been spent with Fidelis Publishing. He spent $13,000 advertising with the owners of Liberty Hill Digest, which first published in July, and Advocate NewsTX.

Additional recent expenditures include Hell or High Water ($48.71), Margaritas Restaurant ($124), Dahlia Cafe ($34.99), Tractor Supply ($39.96), Winkley’s ($38.93) and Todd White ($250).

Branigan’s last reported expenditures were at Digitex Printing for signs and door hangers totaling $917.

Signs remain with PAC claim
Despite promising to correct the error on signs advocating for the passage of a proposition on the November ballot to extend Liberty Hill City Council terms to three years, those signs still show they were paid for by “Liz Rundzieher PAC”.

When asked earlier this month about the formation of a PAC, Rundzieher said she originally planned to create a PAC with the intent of supporting the proposition – which is to extend Liberty Hill City Council terms from two years to three years – but found out through a discussion with City Attorney Tad Cleaves that she could do the signs as a private citizen.

“I paid for them myself,” she said previously. “It was strictly forgetful after seven months that it was on there.”

But she ordered the signs seven months ago, when the election was set for May, and had Liz Rundzieher PAC printed on them because at that time forming the PAC was her intent.

“I had already ordered the signs with the word PAC on them,” Rundzieher said. “When we went and got them the other day down at Digitex I forgot the word PAC was on there and (Wednesday) morning it will be off.”

A search with the Texas Ethics Commission and inquiries with the City of Liberty Hill regarding filing for the PAC or campaign finance reports showed no such political action committee exists.

Rundzieher was one of the Council members that voted in favor of placing the issue on the ballot.

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