Who’s sleazier? Dark money debate continues

It’s not like we’re the only ones getting money from shady special interest groups, says Fred Lewis, the de facto head of the pro-Prop J campaign. A few days ago, Lewis sent out a missive to the media pointing out that “Vote No On Prop J,” the campaign run by urbanists and allies of Mayor Steve Adler, had some dark money demons of its own. From the Statesman:

The No on J PAC received a $10,000 contribution from the Real Estate Council of Austin on Oct. 22. That should have been reported publicly Oct. 25, Lewis said, because the PAC made a direct expenditure the next day. Direct campaign expenditures of more than $500 by an outside group, and recent contributions, must be reported to the city within two business days.

Instead, No on J listed the contribution only in its campaign finance report filed eight days before the election, on Oct. 30.

“They hid from the public their largest and politically controversial contributor for 6 days until early voting was almost over,” Lewis wrote in the complaint. “This is a well-known political trick.”

Fair enough. But a donation disclosed five days late is a rather tame form of disclosure evasion compared to what is being done by Lewis and his allis for both the Prop J campaign and the Prop K campaign. For Prop J, Lewis has funneled just under $10,000 from Save Our City Austin, a nonprofit that does not have to disclose its donors, to the PAC he runs, Let Us Vote Austin, which both spends the money on electioneering or gives it to IndyAustin, the group run by AustinPolitics.NET reader and Pepe the Frog purveyor Linda Curtis.

Lewis isn’t running the Prop K show, but he has brandished his progressive and ethics watchdog credentials on its behalf, coming up with ridiculous excuses for why it shouldn’t have to disclose contributions.

Angela De Hoyos Hart (I could see her running for mayor one day) responds:

“It is, however, not surprising that this frivolous complaint was filed by Fred Lewis, who is supporting massive amounts of illegal dark money behind proposition K,” she wrote. “AND the same Fred Lewis who is running the campaign to support Prop J, which is largely funded by undisclosed, dark money funneled through the Save our City non-profit, which is of course also run by Fred Lewis.”

“The real ethics problems here are those of Fred Lewis and his collaborator, Linda Curtis of IndyAustin, who earlier this week used racist symbols in an attack on Mayor Adler,” she wrote.

The shadow mayor responds in kind:

“Almost every word of that is a flat-out lie — I am not responsible for any Pepe the Frog,” he said. “They know I’m Jewish. … These people lie and smear people and then they wonder why the public doesn’t trust them on CodeNext.”

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