HOUSTON, Texas — Houston City Council candidate TreborGordon filed a lawsuit against the City of Houston over a campaign fund-raisingblackout period he claims violates his 1st Amendment rights. Gorgonclaims the law discriminates against candidates for city council and mayor bystopping them from being able to raise campaign contributions during theblackout period while other elected officials who are also considering runningfor city offices can still raise money as part of their current electedoffices.
A Houston city ordinance in section 18035(a) states that candidatescannot begin raising money during a period beginning in February of an electionyear and ending on March 4th of the year following the electionyear. Candidates for office, under this ordinance, only have nine months toraise money before Election Day according to a statement from Gordon’sattorney, Jared Najvar. Unless, a candidate who has decided to run for a cityoffice is already and elected official holding a non-city office such as staterepresentative or sheriff.
“The blackout period is facially unconstitutional,” Najvarsaid. “But it gets even worse, because people who currently hold non-cityoffice are raising money right now, and everybody knows it will be transferredto their city campaign in February. This whole system is an absurd charadeencouraging candidates to act like they’re running for something they’re not.”
Office holders like State Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston)and Sheriff Adrian Garcia (D-Harris County) are both rumored to be consideringa run for Mayor of Houston. Both can raise money right now for the campaigns oftheir current position and then simply transfer the money to the city campaignaccount when the February fund raising window arrives.
“While these shadow campaigns are proceeding aggressively,”Najvar explained, “non-incumbents like Gordon have to sit on their hands. TheFirst Amendment does not permit such nonsense.”
The system blocks out ten months of every two year campaigncycle for fund raising. This keeps candidates from leveraging the actions ofcertain incumbents into fund raising revenue.
“There is no blackout period banning bad decisions by cityofficials for a part of every election cycle,” Najvar said, “and the governmenthas no authority to tell Gordon–or any other candidate–to wait until Februaryto start campaigning. City officials have access to free media all day long,and my client certainly has the right to fund his campaign and speak to thepublic. This waiting period serves only to insulate the city from organizedopposition.”
Attached below are copies of the complaint filed against thecity by Gordon and the legal memorandum filed in support of the motion for apreliminary injunction. The case is filed in federal court in the SouthernDistrict of Texas, Houston, Texas. The defendant seeks a declaratory andinjunctive relief.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor forBreitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow himon Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.