Houston teachers’ union president Gayle Fallon fined $5,000 by Texas Ethics Commission; Fallon: Cheaper to pay fine than lawyer

Gayle Fallon

The Texas Ethics Commission has fined Houston teachers’ union leader Gayle Fallon $5,000 for campaign finance reporting violations, including almost $40,000 in credit card expenses that were not properly detailed.

The 10-page ruling focused on allegations regarding campaign finance reports submitted from 2009 to 2011 by the Houston Federation of Teachers Committee on Political Education (COPE). Fallon is president of the union and serves as committee treasurer.

The most significant allegations, that Fallon failed to pinpoint tens of thousands of dollars in expenses paid by credit card, were found by the commission to be true. State law requires reporting of the actual vendor being paid, rather than just the credit card company.

“Regarding the four political expenditures to American Express totaling approximately $38,590, the respondent did not disclose the ultimate vendors who received the payments,” the ruling states.

Fallon failed to properly document two political expenses totaling $840 in 2010, listing a last name and initials rather than a full name as required by law, and submitted three reports late. The commission dismissed the other allegations or found them to be more minor, technical errors.

Fallon said the complaint that prompted the ruling was politically motivated and emphasized that the commission rejected most of the allegations.

“It was cheaper to pay the fine than to pay the lawyer to fight the fine,” Fallon said.

Fallon also received ethics attention in 2011 when Texas Watchdog reported on $477,687 in payments from the union to her son, lawyer James Fallon III, for “legal counsel to members.”

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Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of Gayle Fallon from Gov. Rick Perry's website.

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