Austin, TX - October 12, 2005.
Onward Austin, the political committee that supported the smoking ban measure in the May 2005 city election, has been fined $500 by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) for failing to disclose a $35,000 contribution of money by American Cancer Society, Inc.
The TEC's order may be found at http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/sworncomp/orderlst.html. The complaint number is SC-250591.
The complaint was filed by local Libertarian activist Wes Benedict on May 10. Benedict was a candidate for city council in the May election, and he actively opposed the smoking ban measure.
Benedict said, "This corporate money should have been reported before the election, but we didn't find out about it until months afterward."
Benedict continued, "$500 doesn't sound like much compared to $35,000, but I think the TEC's fines need to be understood in context. Even for serious violations, the TEC generally imposes a low, symbolic fine, and leaves it up to the press and the public to punish the violators."
Of the more than 560 complaints filed with the TEC since the beginning of 2002, only 45 have resulted in fines of $500 or more.