Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Dawnna Dukes' campaign finance reports are not in compliance with the law."

Austin lawmaker's campaign finance reports in question

December 18, 2007

Copyright 2007

State Representative Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, says she is amending her campaign finance reports to comply with state law after an analysis of her reports showed more than $89,000 in unitemized credit card expenditures.

The Texas Ethics Commission requires reports of credit card charges to include explanations as to what the cards actually purchased.

Dukes has had a seat in the Texas House since the mid nineties, representing East Austin and parts of Pflugerville.

Every member of the House collects campaign donations and is required by law to report them to the ethics commission.

But Dukes' reports, compared to other Austin lawmakers, show unusual vagueness in how her donations are spent.

A total of $89,697 in spending was charged on 19 separate credit cards, including $32,247 in payments to American Express.

Dukes' reports describe what she purchased -- flowers, food, gas for example-- but they do not attribute the charges to particular vendors.

"Her reports are not in compliance with the law," said campaign finance watchdog Fred Lewis. "The problem isn't having the credit card, the problem is, if you don't itemize it, you can hide things. I'm not saying she's hiding anything, I'm just saying, you could hide things."

Dukes says she simply wasn't clear as to the details of how she should report her expenses.

"Everything on our reports is going to be restructured, redone, to bring about all the clarity to make sure the reports are done right," Dukes said.

She calls the misreporting an honest mistake, for which other lawmakers, like State Rep. Rick Noriega, D-Houston, were fined.

"We're just going to go back and clarify because I feel it's important to do so," Dukes said.

As she goes back, Dukes is also looking forward. She's running for another term against a new Democratic challenger.

On Tuesday, Austin attorney Brian Thompson announced he will challenge Dukes in the March primary.

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