This is hardly shocking. The group waging the campaign to defeat Prop J has gotten almost all of its money from the Chamber of Commerce and the Real Estate Council of Austin.
The campaign finance report for No On Prop J, which was filed on Tuesday, a day late, shows that the group got $10,000 from RECA and $5,000 from the Chamber. The remaining $2,300 were small dollar donations from urbanist activists. No On Prop J is run by Mayor Steve Adler’s consigliere, John-Michael Cortez.
Prop J puppet master Fred Lewis just sent out an email fuming over the contributions. Lewis and his allies at IndyAustin have spent the last few weeks fending off attacks from Adler and other pro-land reform Council members over IndyAustin’s shady funding, its use of a Pepe the Frog in a campaign ad and, most recently, an allegation of transphobic remarks made by one of its canvassers to Danielle Skidmore, a transgender candidate for Council.
Lewis is the head of Let Us Vote Austin, which has made independent expenditures in favor of Prop J as well as funneled money to IndyAustin. It’s all part of the same overarching coordinated effort.
Here’s Lewis’ email:
Reporting late at the end of elections is a sleazy and illegal tactic to hide donations during the crush at the end of campaigns. Without this timely disclosure, the No on Prop J PAC could hide from the public until the last minute that they were just another special interest funded PAC. This allowed them to hypocritically fear-monger about dark money and Donald Trump. In short, they were playing games to hide as long as possible from the public during early voting their donors — which were develop and business interests, like the President’s.What hypocrisy, when their slogan is “Dont Trump Austin”. (The slogan is an idiotic smear to begin with since Donald Trump has nothing to do with a vote on the city’s next land development code).Let US Vote Austin PAC has reported every penny timely and our money comes from conservatives and liberals, business, environmentalists, and neighborhoods. But we have had to endure false dark money accusations and other scurrilous charges.The No on Prop J PAC is simply another special interest funded PAC trying to fool the voters. They dont want the public to have a say on the next CodeNEXT, so they can completely control the process. SHAMELESS.
While IndyAustin has gotten the great majority of its money from self-interested donors –– billboard companies, Circuit of the Americas investors –– Let Us Vote Austin gets a lot of its money from folks who ideologically motivated neighborhood preservationists/anti-density people. However, Let Us Vote has also got $5,000 from anti-transit activist Jim Skaggs and $10,000 of in-kind donations from Reagan Advertising in the form of access to four billboards for ads.