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.
The Save East Austin Schools political action committee was required to file a 30-day campaign finance report Oct. 10 with the Texas Ethics Commission and the school district. No reports are on file with either entity.
Such reports detail how much money political action groups raise and spend.
At the time of the filing, the grass-roots Save East Austin Schools had not raised any money, and the group didn’t know it was required to file a report if no funds were raised, said Bertha Delgado, president of the PAC.
Save East Austin Schools organizers said they would file the report as soon as possible.
Another anti-bond PAC, the Travis County Taxpayers Union, said it raised $5,000 in its Oct. 10 report.
The latest report, for Sept. 28 through Oct. 28, was due by 5 p.m. Monday.
Voters on Nov. 7 will decide the fate of the district’s bond referendum.
Bond money is to be used to rebuild several campuses, construct new schools and make improvements districtwide, but Save East Austin Schools has said the money would be distributed inequitably. The taxpayers union has called for greater transparency regarding the financial impact of the bond referendum.
Mark Littlefield, a volunteer with the pro-bond Committee for Austin’s Children, 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 that the district violated the election code by using public money for political advertising regarding the bond referendum.
The bonds have 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.
As voting day approaches, groups advocating for or against the bonds have increased their lobbying, walking neighborhoods and making calls to get their message across.
Voters rejected two of four district propositions in the $892 million bond package in 2013, the first time in 25 years that Austin voters had turned down funding for school projects.