AISD bond supporter files ethics complaint against anti-bond group


UPDATE:

An organizer with the Save East Austin Schools PAC said the group is not required to file campaign finance reports until January.

Documents provided to the American-Statesman indicate the group is exempt from the reporting requirements because organizers declared at the outset of the campaign that the group would not raise or spend more than $500.

EARLIER:

A group lobbying against the Austin school district’s $1.1 billion bond referendum failed to file a required campaign finance report earlier this month, violating the Election Code, according to an ethics complaint filed against the group.

Most political action committees were required on Oct. 10 to file a 30-day campaign finance report.

Such reports detail how much money political action groups raise and spend.

As of Oct. 10, the grassroots Save East Austin Schools had not raised any money, and the group didn’t believe it was required to file a report if no funds were raised, said Bertha Delgado, president of the PAC.

Another anti-bond PAC, the Travis County Taxpayers’ Union, reported raising $5,000 in its Oct. 10 report.

Voters on Nov. 7 will decide the fate of the district’s bond referendum. Bond funds are slated to rebuild several campuses, construct new schools and make improvements districtwide, but the Save East Austin Schools group has said the funds would be distributed inequitably. The taxpayers’ union has called for greater transparency regarding the financial impact of the bond.

Mark Littlefield, a volunteer with the pro-bond Committee for Austin’s Children, whose consulting company lent the committee $8,000, on Friday filed the complaint against Save East Austin Schools with the Texas Ethics Commission. Littlefield’s complaint came just hours after the Travis County Taxpayers’ Union filed an ethics complaint against the school district and requested a criminal investigation, alleging the district violated the Election Code by using public funds for political advertising regarding the bond.

The bond has had substantial support, with all the area’s chambers of commerce endorsing it. The Committee for Austin’s Children, at the time of the Oct. 10 filing date, had raised $186,000, with thousands more in pledges from businesses and organizations. The pro-bond group spent about $76,000 on flyers, direct mailers, yard signs and a poll that gauged support for the bonds, the records show.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information from the Texas Ethics Commission.



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