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The Texas Election Code and the Texas Ethics Commission

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The Texas Election Code and the Texas Ethics Commission


Our office recently filed suit for Jeff Snowden in his election code violation case against Brian Ravkind, Tracy Edmondson Gamble (d.b.a. Frisco Strong), and Megan DeWolfe for Election Code violations involving failure to report real names of contributors and hidden donations.

This case is related to a defamation case regarding false mailers in which the defendants decided that they could do whatever they wanted in order to defeat a challenger to Frisco ISD status quo. They decided to dig up a story in which Snowden was cited for serving alcohol to minors when he was a bartender nearly 30 years ago, telling the story as though it had just occurred, and he had been arrested, and he went to jail.

The defendants did this while ignoring Texas Election Code campaign rules that require disclosure of who is donating to a cause, leading a political action committee, and reporting of such information so the public can see who is spreading outright lies in political campaigns.

Snowden’s goal in this suit is to demonstrate that the defendants were wrong to use these tactics and discourage such strategies in the future.

At least one of the defendants is whining about this suit in social media, claiming that I am working for Empower Texans, and this is just an anti-education attempt to silence teachers.

Here’s a little FYI – I am on the board of a public charter school, and have been empowering teachers with the ability to give input and have a real impact in their workplace for 20 years, and providing k-9 students a great place to receive an education. I don’t work for Empower Texans, which has never given me money (though I never give up hope)!

Snowden filed complaints with the Texas Ethics Commission regarding this behavior, which has since chosen to dismiss two of the three complaints. The defendants have crowed about this, as though it is a vindication, so I’m compelled to point out that the TEC is a nearly worthless organization, used mostly by the well-connected political types to bludgeon those less connected. The TEC is really good if you want to browbeat a new competitor for failing to put “for” on their campaign signs, but if you want them to enforce campaign election law with respect to your competitor, you’d better hope that your competitor doesn’t know someone who knows someone else at the TEC. And yes, this happens all the time. I have helped people with TEC matters enough times that I recognize their attorney's name without thinking about it.

The lawsuit is posted here, and I encourage you to read it, as it is a good primer on how to not handle campaigns pursuant to the Texas Election Code and what it looks like when you are obviously trying to get away with something you know better than to attempt. Then you’ll realize that the defendants are not being sued because they had a couple of mere clerical errors.

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