in Houston, Texas

Money reported by donors not listed by Harris County Republican Party

Friday, Dec 11, 2009, 11:03AM CST
By Steve Miller


The Harris County Republican Party is auditing its books after an inquiry this week from Texas Watchdog concerning what appears to be money missing from the party's coffers.

If true, the party failed to disclose nearly $10,000 in donations on its campaign finance report for the first half of the year, a review by Texas Watchdog has found.

The figure represents nearly 10 percent of the party's total contributions received during that span, and is based on a comparison of the county party's filing with reports submitted by donors. The group says it has launched an internal review in light of Texas Watchdog's findings.

Among the donations not reported was a $1,000 contribution made on April 10 by Texans for Dan Patrick, the fundraising committee for the sitting state senator from Houston.

Treasurer Court Koenning said one of the committee's checks to the Harris County GOP went missing sometime in the last year or so, but he was not sure whether that check was the contribution in question. He explained that Texans for Dan Patrick had issued a check to the party, that the party claimed it never received the check, and that it was reissued.

The unaccounted-for money also includes a $2,500 donation from Texans for Greg Abbott, the committee supporting the incumbent state attorney general, and a $1,000 contribution from Texans for Tommy Williams, which supports the state senator from The Woodlands. Texans for Ted Cruz, whose candidate is running for attorney general, also donated $2,500 that the party did not report.

Both the Williams and the Cruz camps confirmed their donations to Texas Watchdog. Penny Butler, campaign treasurer for state Supreme Court Justice Dale Wainwright, said that the justice bought a table at the 2009 Reagan-Lincoln Day Dinner for $2,500, as stated on his reporting form. That donation is also nowhere to be found on the Harris County party's form.

The annual fundraiser was held March 26 and featured former Reagan deputy chief of staff and political consultant Ed Rollins.

GOP treasurer: 'We report what we got'

The Harris County Republican Party’s treasurer, Josh Flynn, referred Texas Watchdog to those who made the contributions that the GOP failed to report.

“I can’t speak for anything that is not reported,” Flynn said. “We report what we got, and as far as what others report, you’d have to talk to them.”

Still, in light of questioning from Texas Watchdog, the party is conducting a review, another party official said.

"In the interest of accuracy, we are currently conducting a comprehensive audit of the mid-year reports and reconciling with our bank records," deputy director Marc Cowart said via e-mail. "If a clerical error was made and a contribution or contributions were omitted from the report, we will file an amended report with the appropriate filing authority."

The donations range in date from Feb. 25 to April 10.

The party reported $101,355 in contributions for the period from Jan. 1 to June 30. There is an allowance for overlap in contribution reporting -- for instance, a check arriving in late June, close to the filing date, which may not make the report for a specific period.

“There are instances where, time-wise, a donation can be reported in the following reporting period,” said Tim Sorrells, deputy general counsel at the Texas Ethics Commission. “But if a donation is accepted during a reporting period, it is required to report that."

Committees can also elect to return contributions to donors. But none of the donations in question were returned, the officials with the donor committees said.

Failure to report contributions can bring punishment from two sides: the criminal side, which could be a Class C misdemeanor, and the civil side, in which the Texas Ethics Commission can levy penalties. In the case of the latter, a finding of guilt can result in a fine of $5,000 or up to three times the amount of the unreported donations.

Contact Steve Miller at or 832-303-9420.

Photo of paper money elephant by flickr user carolyntiry, used via a Creative Commons license.

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lilly Snell
Friday, 12/11/2009 - 01:14PM

Someone needs to tell the local GOP it is PC to be transparent. This is unacceptable. What's with this treasurer who says we report what we receive..... does he think Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and others all made this up........ could it be possible the GOP made another mistake!

Hey, Flynn, it's on their reports. And of course, they all lied. Everybody lies, except you.

tired dog
Friday, 12/11/2009 - 02:15PM

Were the checks confirmed as having been cashed, or simply as written by the donors?

Friday, 12/11/2009 - 02:56PM

Have they ever paid that bill they owed their Republican sign guy from over a year ago, or are they still jacking with and brushing under the rug paying him, as well as NEVER reporting the thousands that they owe/owed him at any executive committe meeting, basically giving "false reports" to the executive committe?

Saturday, 12/12/2009 - 01:12PM

And these guys want to govern????

Wednesday, 12/16/2009 - 10:58AM

I tried to donate through the electronic system but it through me out twice over the last two years. HCRP has not been prooactive in keeping it simple. HCRP needs to get back to good leadership, Republican Platforms, and Permanent Chairs that are elected by the committees for thier term to serve.

Jared seem to have certain committments he can not get out from under. I imagine it has something to do with money and power plays. The Party needs to belong to the members that seek to be active. To be active you must be willing to serve and help fund the activities.

Politics make strange bedfellows and that is why a conservative will go home to his spouse if he is smart. Texas has a great GOP Party and with your help HCRP can be just as great!

The Little Birdie
Wednesday, 12/16/2009 - 04:29PM

Everyone knows Jeff Yates is really running the party, as much as he is "allowed" to do. Finance reports show's he and his company that Jared pays is getting paid very well. If someone REALLY wants to know what was going on up there at HCRP, especially during the 08 General, they would track down and talk to former employee Russ. He could also probably verify what the party owes that sign printer as being legitimate. He was always in the office and I am sure saw all.

Jennifer Peebles
Saturday, 12/19/2009 - 09:01PM

CharlesJr, Bill, Little Birdie, PayYourBills, Lilly, Tired Dog,

Just a belated and quick note to thank all of you for taking the time to comment here. We appreciate you reading and posting.

Take care,

Jennifer P.

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