in Houston, Texas
Texas Ethics Commission fines treasurer of Waste Control Specialists PAC
Wednesday, Jan 02, 2013, 11:10AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Texas state Capitol

Ten months after a complaint was filed, the Texas Ethics Commission fined William Lindquist $6,450 for illegally accepting political contributions as treasurer of a political action committee for Waste Control Specialists.

The Commission ruled Lindquist accepted on behalf of WCS-Texas Solution PAC a donation of $100,100 from Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons Sept. 21, 2011, before the political action committee had gotten donations from at least 10 other people, a violation of state ethics law.

The Commission announced its ruling today after issuing its order on Dec. 20, having met to hear the case Nov. 29.

Craig McDonald, executive director of Texans for Public Justice, filed his complaint against WCS-Texas Solution on Feb. 21, 2012. When brought to his attention several days later by Texas Tribune, Lindquist called the mistake an oversight, took responsibility for it and said he intended to ask 18 elected officials to return donations totalling roughly $64,500.

According to Ethics Commission records, WCS-Texas Solution recalled the donations in March.

The size of the fine and the unwilingness of anyone involved in the donating to admit wrongdoing to the Ethics Commission disappointed McDonald.

"The fine should have been the $65,000 that was illegally contributed," McDonald told Texas Watchdog this morning. "This looks more like a 10 percent nuisance tax on Mr. Simmons."

McDonald said he would be following up to see if the 18 elected officials who received donations had returned the money.

"Let's hope this group handles nuclear waste better than it does Texas ethics law," McDonald said.

Those receiving donations between October 8, 2011, and December 13, 2011 were state senators, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen and Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo; and state representatives, Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton; Dan Branch, R-Dallas; Cindy Burkett, R-Mesquite; Byron Cook, R-Corsicana; Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas; Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; Jessica Farrar, D-Houston; John Frullo, R-Lubbock; Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth; Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, R-Mauriceville; Kelly Hancock, R-Fort Worth; Patricia Harless, R-Spring; Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi; Sid Miller, R-Stephenville; Wayne Smith, R-Baytown; and Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 2 to include comments from McDonald and the detail of the committee recalling the donations.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of Texas state Capitol by flickr user Kumar Appaiah, used via a Creative Commons license.

No Bonds for Billionaires - which opposed radioactive dump - fined for fundraising without naming treasurer
Monday, Aug 16, 2010, 02:48PM CST
By Steve Miller

It’s a familiar lament during a contentious bond issue that has strong opposition or support: Who is funding that position?

The CBS affiliate in Odessa reports that the Texas Ethics Commission fined an environmental group for failing to meet state disclosure guidelines for PACs.


money

No Bonds for Billionaires, an environmental group that last year aimed to thwart a $75 million bond issue in Andrews County, was fined $1,000 because the group both spent and took money for a political activity before naming, publicly, a treasurer for its PAC.


No Bonds opposed a radioactive disposal site in West Texas. As part of its campaign, the committee assailed Waste Control Specialists, the Dallas company that could profit from passage of the bond, which passed in May 2009 by three votes.


Waste Control filed a complaint against No Bonds, alleging the group took campaign contributions without first identifying a campaign treasurer.


The No Bonds effort was funded by the Austin group Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED), and Waste Control Specialists also accused No Bonds of trying to conceal its connections to SEED during its advertising campaign.


Ruling and response are here


The story quotes commission lawyer Tim Sorrells:

"It is just for transparency so the public can look at reports when people are involved in elections and can see who is contributing and what sort of expenditures are being made.”

Waste Control Specialists fired off a press release last week castigating its foe and lauding the ruling.


In response, SEED came back with a statement of its own, saying it admitted no wrongdoing, but that paying the fine was less expensive than a battle in the courts.


Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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