By ANDREW GARY
Citizens Advocating Responsible Education – SMCISD treasurer
The voters of SMCISD need to be informed about the financial disclosures made by San Marcos ACCess, the local specific-purpose committee which supported the Austin Community College (ACC) annexation initiative, and Friends of ACC, the Austin-based political action committee that supports various ACC initiatives throughout the region.
Through open records requests to ACC, the entity to which San Marcos ACCess makes its reports required under the Texas Election Code, CARE-SMCISD obtained copies of documents covering the period from January 27, 2010 (the date of San Marcos ACCess’ organizational meeting) through October 25, 2010 (the eight days before election report).
The financial disclosures made by San Marcos ACCess for the period reflect the following contributions:
Undated, total political contributions of cash in the amount of $50 or less (identification of donors not required): $70. Undated, in-kind contributions for postcards: $116.72. May 14, Lockwood, Adams, Newman, Inc. Engineers, Houston, cash contribution, $500. Undated, John Hernandez, Friends of ACC, cash contribution, $2,500.
As reflected in its report, the total of all contributions made by the local group, San Marcos ACCess, is the sum of $186.72.
Financial disclosures made by Friends of ACC for the period reflect the following expenditures:
May 14, Hunter Ellison, Austin, Texas, for printing and mailing in connection with the SMCISD petition drive, $1,546.53. Oct. 12, San Marcos ACCess for advertising and mailing, $2,500. Oct. 21, San Marcos ACCess for advertising and mailing, $2,500.
The source of the $5,000 paid by Friends of ACC to San Marcos ACCess (only $2,500.00 of which was reported by San Marcos ACCEss) was from contributions made by various consultants, contractors, lawyers, and architects located in Austin and San Antonio, who apparently do business with Austin Community College.
None of the reports filed by San Marcos ACCess or Friends of ACC reflect the expense for the many red and white signs that were displayed throughout San Marcos prior to the election and which indicated that they were paid political advertising by Friends of ACC.
Based on the foregoing, it is obvious (1) that the co-chairs and members of San Marcos ACCess reported total monetary contributions toward their support of the ACC annexation initiative to be less than $200, and (2) that all except $186.72 of the reported expenses for mailout of the petition and flyers, signage, advertising in the San Marcos Record and University Star, block walking, postcards, printing, etc., were paid from funds received by San Marcos ACCess from Friends of ACC, derived from contributions received from consultants, contractors, lawyers, and architects located in Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, that do business with Austin Community College.
Was the financing of the initiative a “grass roots” effort?