Archive for January 13th, 2015

It looks like the City of H-Town is fixing to wave the white flag on some of the City’s campaign fundraising rules. The City Attorney is now saying that the so-called fundraising blackout period is unconstitutional after a federal judge said so this past Friday. I guess we have been conducting unconstitutional campaigns for over 20 years now. So I guess we are fixing to be a 24/7 fundraising City. I don’t know about that.

The City Attorney also says that Chris Bell’s courthouse move to prevent State Rep. Sylvester Turner from transferring dough from his state rep campaign account into a Mayoral campaign war chest is moot because Turner raised the funds during a blackout period that didn’t exist because it was unconstitutional – huh! I thought the Bell folks were challenging the maximum amount Turner could transfer – $10,000.

An issue Commentary has is how could have Rep. Turner raised campaign funds for a Mayoral race if he didn’t have a Treasurer on file over at the City Secretary’s Office?

The City Attorney will be out of office in less than a couple of weeks and on his way out he is fixing to alter the fundraising rules. I sure hope he has been talking about these proposed changes this with key members of City Council – at the least. I would sure hope that more folks get to have a say in this if you know what I mean. After all, it is how we conduct campaigns.

I think this issue is important so I am putting out all of Teddy Schleifer’s piece from today’s Chron here:

City officials will argue that the city’s election ordinance is unconstitutional as part of a strategy to strengthen their position in a lawsuit that could shape the early stages of this year’s mayor’s race.

After defending the city Monday in civil court, City Attorney David Feldman said he would write an opinion explaining to the City Council why its fundraising “blackout” rule is unconstitutional. A federal judge on Friday ruled that law likely violated the First Amendment.

A separate lawsuit by likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell, the subject of a hearing in state court Monday, accused the city of failing to strictly enforce its fundraising law. Feldman intends to take advantage of the ruling in the federal case to convince the judge in the Bell lawsuit that Bell no longer has a case.

The strategy, hatched in closed chambers by Feldman after more than an hour of heated debate in the 165th District Court, amounts to the city capitalizing on its own loss just days before.

“In the first instance, we have some obligation to defend the constitutionality of (city) ordinances,” Feldman said in an interview following Monday’s hearing. “But we have a ruling from a federal district court judge that the blackout period is unconstitutional. I believe he is correct.”

Houston’s blackout period, passed in 1992, prohibits city candidates from raising money for 10 months before the February of an election year. The blackout, meant to limit corruption, effectively froze campaigning until Feb. 1, when a frenzy of renewed fund-raising ensued.

But this fall, two lawsuits challenged Houston’s rules. Bell’s suit charged that the city is allowing mayoral candidate Rep. Sylvester Turner to transfer too much money from his legislative account. In the other lawsuit, a City Council candidate alleged the blackout infringed on his free speech rights.

Now the cases are converging.

On Friday. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake enjoined the city from enforcing the blackout. The city is not asking for a stay of the decision and on Monday confirmed it will not defend the law.

Also on Monday, Bell and Feldman’s team quarreled in front of Judge Elizabeth Ray, who is presiding in the Bell case. Bell is challenging Turner’s strategy of raising money for his unopposed state legislative campaign during the blackout period and then transferring that money to a future mayoral account.

Bell argued Turner should be allowed to transfer only $10,000 – the maximum permitted from any political action committee. The city and Turner say the candidate can transfer the first $5,000 of each individual donation, allowing him to build a huge war chest.

And that, Bell’s attorney said, is Feldman’s fault.

“Mr. Feldman has no authority to provide legal advice to Mr. Turner or anybody else,” said Bell attorney Geoff Berg, as Feldman shook his head. “But he did it anyway.”

Turner asked Feldman for approval of his plan in May and Feldman gave it. The City Attorney said his job involves giving his thoughts on legal issues brought to his attention.

City officials said Friday’s decision made Bell’s lawsuit moot. If no blackout period is in effect, then Turner’s fundraising during that period is proper, the city argued, and there is no need to transfer any money.

Bell said he would challenge Friday’s decision in a new lawsuit in federal court.

It is kind of messy so I guess we have to stay tuned.

Among active MLBers, who has the most career At-Bats?

Kuffer put out a take today on stuff I mentioned last week. Here it is: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64754.

I am not going to say anything about the member of Congress from down the road who compared the President to Hitler on the Paris rally.

Just like I am not going to say anything about some GOPers criticizing the President for not going to France to pick up a couple of orders of freedom fries.

I will say that Nick Anderson has a good one today here: http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/2015/01/leader-of-the-free-world/.

A-Roid of course leads all active – yes A-Roid is now active – MLBers with 9,818 career At-Bats.

We will see A-Roid at The Yard for four in late June.

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