Gary Scharrer of the Chron‘s Austin bureau reports on a California activist who’s doing the work that once was done by watchdog reporter types:
A California disabled veteran who spends six days a week sifting through campaign finance reports has filed complaints against 10 Texas legislators and 15 judges with the Texas Ethics Commission, ranging from failing to identify campaign donors to using campaign money for personal use.
One of the complaints takes aim at state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, for dipping into his massive campaign chest for $165,061 worth of Houston Astros, Texans and Rockets tickets — expenses the veteran says personally benefit the senator.
“Does every voter get a free ticket to the ballgame?” wonders Dave Palmer, who filed the complaint. “It’s a wonder that the Astros don’t ask him to call balls and strikes.”
In his campaign finance report, Whitmire says the expense was necessary for “constituent entertainment.”
Politics is big business, of course, and our politicians have grown very accustomed to the same sorts of perks that many top business executives enjoy.
Besides, Sen. Whitmire told the Chronicle that watchdogs shouldn’t be so worried about his political bidness:
“It’s a total non-issue by some character out in California, so I don’t care what he thinks,” Whitmire said Monday when the commission received Palmer’s complaints.
As one sarcastic Chron.com commenter wrote, “Ah, the voice of a public servant.”
It’s not clear that the sports expenditures actually amount to an ethics violation, but there is a clear violation detailed later in the report:
Palmer’s complaint against Whitmire also accuses the senator of not fully identifying major campaign contributors by not including the donor’s occupation and employer. The requirement became law in 2003 for those who contributed at least $500. Whitmire has failed to fully identify more than 250 supporters whose contributions amounted to more than $400,000, Palmer said.
Whitmire said he was unaware of the requirement and will instruct the person who prepares his reports to amend them.
Wait a second, we thought he didn’t care about these alleged non-issues raised by a Californian?
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