Why would a small town candidate fail to report big time P.A.C. contributions?

In the last round of campaign finance reports, New Leadership PAC reported contributions of $40,000 to Texas House District 88 candidate Jason Huddleston.

However, Huddleston only reported receiving $5,000 from New Leadership.

Perhaps this was an honest mistake. Let he who is without $35,000 error cast the first stone.

Or maybe the failure to disclose was intentional.

If intentional, one could certainly understand why Huddleston, an insurance agent in Perryton (pop. 8,870) wouldn’t want to fess up to taking the money days before the election.

New Leadership PAC is heavily supported by Stacy Hock, an Austin philanthropist and ardent supporter of school vouchers. New Leadership reported a $100,000 Hock contribution in the 8-day report. The PAC has received $200,000 from Hock since the beginning of the year, and a total of $300,000 since last fall.

New Leadership has taken aim at several rural pro-public education House Republicans — like Canadian state Rep. Ken King. They’ve done so by supporting 2018 GOP primary challengers— like Huddleston, one of King’s opponents.

Hock’s big bucks would likely be problematic back home for Huddleston, whose campaign ads claim he “will be a tireless advocate for rural public schools.”

In the 2018 primaries, failure to report contributions seems to be a systemic problem for candidates backed by PACs such as New Leadership, Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life.

On February 17, Quorum Report published a story entitled Several Texas House candidates fail to disclose hefty contributions from Empower Texans PAC, detailing reports of four candidates (see below). This week QR reported state Senator Bob Hall failed to report $25,000 from Texas Right to Life.

These failures to report are problematic for several reasons, but here are two big ones.

The first is the integrity of local democracy. Folks in the district don’t know which interests, and the degree to which these interests, are involved in an election for their representation in Austin. And to this point, folks in Perryton and HD88 deserve a transparency that allows them to know the likes of Stacy Hock are involved in the race.

Second, by state law, failure to report is punishable as a Class A misdemeanor, according to Austin attorney Steve Bresnen, who’s had plenty of experience battling for campaign contribution transparency before the Texas Ethics Commission.

Of late, Attorney General Ken Paxton seems to be awfully concerned about public school officials committing Class A misdemeanors by endorsing candidates. But Paxton doesn’t seem concerned at all about the possibility of particular candidates committing the same offense.

(Note: Expect Texas’ Piecharter-in-Chief Christopher Tackett of ChristopherTackettNow.com to have more on this soon. This post will be updated at that time.)

——

Details in Quorum Report’s story from Feb. 17, 2018:

  • Armin Mizani, who is challenging Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, received $75,000, but only reported raising $3,000.
  • Bryan Slaton, a pastor challenging Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, received $25,000, but only reported raising $11,000.
  • Drew Brassfield, challenging Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo, received $10,000, but only reported $2,000.
  • Jonathan Boos, running for an open seat vacated by Rep. Cindy Burkett, failed to report a $5,000 contribution.

Texas Ethics Commission General Counsel Ian Steusloff told Quourm Report at the time that candidates could correct reports, but would likely face a fine.

(Photo via LOC.gov)

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