Dawnna Dukes campaign racks up $730,000 in debt as challengers rise


State Rep. Dawnna Dukes’ re-election campaign is off to a rocky start, as the veteran Democrat has accrued more than $730,000 in outstanding loans, raised just $2,250 in recent months and has lost two dozen past supporters who have flipped their allegiance to former Austin City Council Member Sheryl Cole, one of Dukes’ six primary challengers.

Cole, meanwhile, raised $91,000 in the second half of 2017 and has $45,000 on hand as she prepares for the March 6 primary, which features an unusual number of challengers thanks to Dukes’ recent legal troubles and frequent absences from the Capitol.

Attorney Jose “Chito” Vela III raised more than $30,000. “We have the funds we need to finish strong,” he said.

Dukes’ finances were revealed this week in a pair of campaign reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission. One of the reports was submitted after Tuesday’s filing deadline. Dukes has been fined multiple times in the past for late and inaccurate reports and currently owes the Commission $500.

The most recent reports are missing required details showing how Dukes’ debt has grown by more than $500,000 since mid-July, and do not offer a clear picture of her finances.

Dukes acknowledged the flaws in the paperwork, saying in a text message on Tuesday, “I’ve noticed some mistakes too.” Any errors were inadvertent, she said. State law gives her up to two weeks to correct and resubmit them.

She blames a two-year criminal investigation and negative media attention for her troubles with fundraising and for contracts lost by her personal consulting business. She said she had to take out the loans to cover legal bills incurred as she fended off charges of falsifying government records and abusing her office. The charges were dropped in October after the Travis County district attorney’s office acknowledged it could not prove wrongdoing.

For a full report on the House District 46 race, including past donors who have parted ways with Dukes and more on her legal bills, visit MyStatesman.com



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