Ethics complaint against Dave Neumann allegeds over $20,000 in campaign donation violations

This week I received an ethics complaint that was submitted to the city against Dallas Councilman Dave Neumann. Realize that I’ve known his District 3 opponent Casey Thomas for years, supported him at the NAACP, and even introduced him when he announced he was running for office.

The documentation that accompanied the complaint seemed straight forward, but the Neumann campaign answer is not. I waited a bit before I posted anything but now I can direct you to Sam Merten’s article for the Dallas Observer that sums up the complaint, documents related to this complaint and others, and the Neumann camp’s reaction. Here’s a portion of Sam’s extensive report:

  • A supporter of Casey Thomas filed an ethics complaint Monday against Dave Neumann, who’s being challenged by Thomas for his District 3 city council seat, claiming he violated the Dallas City Code. Brian Wesley alleges Neumann accepted $27,925 in contributions that exceed the allowable $1,000 donation per individual in each election cycle.
  • We called Neumann’s office Monday for comment and were referred to his consultant, Laura Reed Martin. She told us Tuesday that his camp was unaware of the complaint and stressed that it’s “standard” for candidates to be able to raise money in current election cycles and apply them to past cycles when a debt is carried.
  • This isn’t the first time Neumann has found himself in trouble regarding his finances. After The Dallas Morning News busted him in February for overspending his office budget by $8,000, he initially declined to pay the funds back. Instead, he asked council members Linda Koop and Mitchell Rasansky to dip into their budgets to cover his overage, but both were unwilling. (Shawn P. aside – aren’t Republicans supposed to be fiscally conservative?)
  • Eleven days later, Neumann was nailed again by the paper, this time for accepting contributions exceeding the monetary limit. He claimed his office audited his campaign finance reports and discovered four contributions of $1,000 that violated city code.

So apparently in this case, Neumann’s people are arguing that if you have campaign debt for previous elections (say the 2007 election cycle) then you can solicit donors of the current year to pay towards that debt without it counting it towards the $1,000 per election cycle figure.

So Mr. John Public -under the Neumann campaign rules- can write a $1,000 check in January of 2009 for this year’s race and then another $1,000 check in April of 2009 that would count towards Mr. Neumann’s first election. Make sense? Didn’t think so.

So all the hot water we have seen Southern Dallas officials get into over “ethics violations” that run over and over on the news, and Neumann seems to be skating through just fine. I say that because it is not even seen as an issue worth reporting by the T.V. stations. Excellent work by the Observer, we’ll see how the other outlets follow this from here on out.

I’ll leave my commentary at that. There’s enough meat in Sam’s article to chew on for quite some time.

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