RELEASE: 2 new campaign finance violations discovered from District 1 Austin Council member

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 18, 2019
Media contact: Andy Hogue, Communications Director
communications@travisgop.com

BREAKING: 2 new campaign finance violations discovered from District 1 Austin Council member

Additional examples of Natasha Harper-Madison's neglect raise questions of competency, ethical standards

AUSTIN -- A single campaign finance rule violation for a first-term office-holder was enough to make local headlines this week following the release of semiannual filings.

Now, two new violations have been discovered following a careful investigation of District 1 City Council member Natasha Harper-Madison's campaign finance paperwork.

Travis County Republican Party (TCRP) Chairman Matt Mackowiak filed a sworn complaint to the City of Austin on Wednesday (July 17) detailing the violations. Austin-area media outlets picked up on one of the problems: Harper-Madison's acceptance of $3,695 in campaign contributions after her runoff victory — a clear violation of Austin city campaign finance rules. Harper-Madison dismissed it via KXAN-TV as an "innocent error."

"The Austin City Council is elected for few other purposes than to safeguard the trust given to them by the taxpayers and to carefully scrutinize the complex details of running a rapidly growing city," said TCRP Chairman Matt Mackowiak. "When a representative of the people on the Council dais cannot keep up with Austin campaign finance rules, it casts doubt on her ability to understand the ins-and-outs of city policy. It also does not speak well of her understanding of ethics and what the taxpayers expect of their elected officials."

Below are the campaign finance violations included in Mackowiak's complaint:

  • Violation 1: Harper-Madison raised money not within the designated campaign period for a general election, special election, or runoff election (as covered by local media, and as referenced above).

  • Violation 2: In Harper-Madison's Jan. 15, 2019, semiannual campaign finance report, she did not indicate any "unpaid incurred obligations," any outstanding loan, nor any political expenditures from personal funds intended for reimbursement. If there were any un-reimbursed expenses or unpaid incurred obligations during the runoff election, they would have to be reported. When in the midst of a campaign, agreements for expenses are often made with amounts or limitations as part of those agreements. However, none are reflected in her semiannual report which covered the activity after her election (received on Dec. 3). Therefore, the acceptance of contributions clearly indicated on her semiannual report filed this month to cover the “unpaid remaining expenses” is a violation when no unpaid remaining expenses were indicated on her January semiannual report.

  • Violation 3: Harper-Madison's campaign accepted contributions without having first determined whether each contribution would violate Austin city campaign finance rules. Four of the 10 contributions listed in her campaign's July 15 semiannual report occurred at least one month after the runoff election was concluded. One came in as late as March 12, 2019. The campaign had ample time to review the financial disclosure and campaign finance regulations in order to be in compliance. With no indication that any remaining obligations were to be paid, this is a violation of the City Charter.

"The failure of the Austin Audit proposal in 2018 means that we have to be all the more vigilant when it comes to the actions of our elected officials," Mackowiak added. "We call upon Austin citizens to demand better of their elected officials, especially as the 2020 election year approaches."

Harper-Madison was the runner-up in a six-way District 1 election in November 2018 and won a runoff election in December 2018 by a large margin. She replaces former Council member Ora Houston, who decided not to seek another term.

The Travis County Republican Party exists to elect Republicans to all levels of government and to support the conservative principles of the party. For more information visit TravisGOP.com.

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