Texas Fines Wendy Davis for Campaign Finance ‘Violations’

Wendy Davis says goodbye.
AP File Photo: Tony Gutierrez

Democrat Wendy Davis, the failed 2014 gubernatorial candidate, and her campaign fundraising cohort Battleground Texas have been fined by the State for not promptly reporting $3.4 million in political contributions four years ago.

This week, the Texas Ethics Commission sanctioned the Wendy Davis for Governor, Inc. campaign and Democrat political action group Battleground Texas, which worked on the former state senator’s 2014 bid for governor, for reporting these campaign fund contributions late. They each must pay a fine of $3,000 each, totaling $6,000.

In two separate orders, the commission said they found “credible evidence of violations of Texas Election Code 254.031” which governs political reporting. The orders stated that a total of $3.4 million in campaign contributions, pledges, or credits should have been reported in January 2014 campaign finance reports for both the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas. According to the commission, Davis and Battleground Texas hosted at least eight joint fundraisers during the January 2014 semiannual reporting period. However, the parties did not list this information until their respective July 2014 finance reports.

Ethics commission officials stated that the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas agreed to work together, holding joint fundraisers to raise money for the November 2014 general election. To carry out this fundraising activity, these two entities formed a third group, the “Texas Victory Committee,” which reported the donations in their January 2014 records. However, the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas did not.

At issue, according to the commission’s orders, was that Davis and Battleground Texas did not follow protocol and created confusion with the delayed reporting which made it seem like some donors contributed monies twice to Davis in 2014 because their names appeared on the Texas Victory Committee reports in January and again later in the year on either the Davis or Battleground Texas documents.

To resolve the matter, the Davis campaign and Battleground Texas each agreed to pay a $3,000 penalty for not properly reporting the campaign donations. The order stated: “Davis PAC and Battleground were entitled to about $1.7 million each in political contributions during the January 2014 semiannual reporting period, but did not report the acceptance of these contributions until the contributions were actually transferred to them from TVC in a subsequent reporting period. Therefore, it is the view of the Commission that there is credible evidence of violations of section 254.031 of the Election Code.”

The commission orders noted the reporting by the respondents “evinced a good-faith attempt” to comply with Texas disclosure laws “for a somewhat complicated and novel fundraising operation not explicitly contemplated by Texas law.”

In the orders, Davis for Governor and Battleground Texas respondents contended they did not violate any provisions of the state’s election code. The terms of the agreement proposed that “for the sake of resolving this matter, without further proceedings, the respondent accepts the Commission’s proposal of resolution without any admission of wrongdoing of any kind.”

Wendy Davis became famous for wearing pink sneakers and a urinary catheter during her 13-hour, 2013 filibuster on the floor of the Texas Legislature to block a bill that banned late-term abortions. She since founded the Austin-based feminist advocacy group Deeds Not Words. Sandra Bullock is slated to star as Davis in a film about the filibuster.

Battleground Texas, a political action committee launched in 2013 by former Obama campaign aide Jeremy Bird, seeks to elect Democrats, creating a “blue wave” that transforms Texas into a “battleground” state and ultimately flips the state politically to the left.

The Texas Ethics Commission was established in 1991 when voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution. It provides guidance on public ethics laws including the election code. Members are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor, and the Texas House speaker.

Follow Merrill Hope, a member of the original Breitbart Texas team, on Twitter.

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