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Behind the Ethics Complaint Leveled at the Ann Kitchen Petition

Recall-Kitchen-Petition-Redacted.jpg
Mike Blizzard via Twitter
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A copy of the petition circulated to remove Council Member Ann Kitchen from office.

Updated: Feb. 9, 2:00 p.m. According to the City of Austin's website, the Austin4All PAC filed its treasurer appointment form Monday.

An effort to remove Austin City Council Member Ann Kitchen may have hit a bump. On Friday, a local attorney filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission against the political action committee (PAC) organizing the recall.

But, what’s the complaint exactly?

“The lynchpin of our campaign finance disclosure system in Texas is that if you engage in political activity you have to file a campaign treasurer appointment,” says attorney Fred Lewis, who filed the complaint.

Lewis’ complaint alleges that the PAC, called Austin 4 All, has not filed its treasurer appointment form. On Friday, the City of Austin said it did not have it. PAC directors claimed they had filed it.

While no petition has been turned in yet, the PAC has claimed it has all the signatures needed.

If the Texas Ethics Commission decides the ethics complaint is valid and the PAC’s been operating illegally, Lewis says he’s not sure he knows how the Ethics Commission will proceed.

But a spokesperson for the City does. He says no, it would not invalidate the petition. To some degree, it doesn’t matter how you get the signatures needed for a recall. So the petition’s safe. But what consequences could the PAC face? Lewis says it depends.

“[The Ethics Commission] will either find that they violated the law, settle it, or find that they haven’t violated the law. It takes months,” he says.

A spokesperson for the Ethics Commission says if the PAC is found to have violated the law, the majority of these cases are settled and Austin4All could be fined. But, again, the Austin 4 All PAC insists it is in compliance with the law.

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