TX City Argues Against Own Campaign Finance Rule

Houston Chronicle: “Houston’s blackout period, passed in 1992, prohibits city candidates from raising money for 10 months before the February of an election year. The blackout, meant to limit corruption, effectively froze campaigning until Feb. 1, when a frenzy of renewed fund-raising ensued.

“But this fall, two lawsuits challenged Houston’s rules. Bell’s suit charged that the city is allowing mayoral candidate Rep. Sylvester Turner to transfer too much money from his legislative account. In the other lawsuit, a City Council candidate alleged the blackout infringed on his free speech rights.

“Now the cases are converging.

“On Friday. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake enjoined the city from enforcing the blackout. The city is not asking for a stay of the decision and on Monday confirmed it will not defend the law.

“Also on Monday, Bell and Feldman’s team quarreled in front of Judge Elizabeth Ray, who is presiding in the Bell case. Bell is challenging Turner’s strategy of raising money for his unopposed state legislative campaign during the blackout period and then transferring that money to a future mayoral account.”

“City officials said Friday’s decision made Bell’s lawsuit moot. If no blackout period is in effect, then Turner’s fundraising during that period is proper, the city argued, and there is no need to transfer any money.”

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