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Senate shenanigans

The Lone Star Project highlights another bit of funny bookkeeping from State Sen. Kim Brimer:

Campaign finance records show that Republican State Senator Kim Brimer (SD10 – Fort Worth) has again used campaign contributor funds for personal gain. A complete review of Kim Brimer’s campaign finance forms from 1987 to the present shows that Brimer skimmed at least $37,953 from his campaign account for his personal use. The Lone Star Project discovery of Brimer’s improper, and possibly illegal, repayments resulted from an earlier investigation (PDF) into the Republican Senator’s improper use of campaign cash to purchase a luxury condominium in Austin.

Facts: Phony Loan Scam

Documents filed with the Texas Ethics Commission show that during Brimer’s campaign for the Texas State House in 1987 and 1988, he bilked his campaign for more than $37,000.

  • Brimer loaned his campaign $46,000 during 1987 and 1988
  • Brimer family members loaned the Kim Brimer Campaign an additional $10,000
  • Brimer made a series of payments to himself totaling at least $83,953, reported as “loan repayments,” from 1988 to 1992
  • As a result, Kim Brimer received at least $37,953 more than the amount he loaned himself.
    (Source: Texas Ethics Commission) See Documents Here

Brimer Scandal File Growing

This Brimer campaign loan scam comes on the heels of a Lone Star Project report and Fort Worth Star-Telegram article detailing how Kim Brimer used donations to his campaign to make bogus “rent” payments to his wife. The “rent” payments and the profits from the sale of the luxury condo netted Brimer more than $357,000.

You almost have to admire the entrepreneurship needed to come up with a scheme like this. If only such creative thinking were used to solve the school finance problem. Or rising insurance rates, which have gotten Brimer’s attention somewhat belatedly. See the extended entry for a press release from the Wendy Davis campaign for more on that.

Meanwhile, the Texas Conservative Review has a long article on the “real reasons behind State Sen. Kyle Janek’s resignation” in SD17. This is not an unbiased source, as TCR publisher Gary Polland lost to Janek in a GOP primary for the SD17 seat in 2002, but it’s an interesting read, and offers a further clue that the seat is ripe for a Democratic pickup this year with the right candidate in the race. Check it out.

The political winds howling through 20 year-incumbent Kim Brimer’s backyard forced him to use his position on the Sunset Advisory Commission to talk tough about the insurance industry in the state of Texas. However, his actions speak much louder than his words. According to the Institute for Money in State Politics, the insurance industry is one of Brimer’s chief contributors having given him over $133,000 in the last ten years. Brimer, an insurance company executive and owner, has clearly felt the pressure of recent polls released showing that Wendy Davis, former Fort Worth City Councilwoman and his opponent this November, is in a prime position for victory. Her campaign has focused on highlighting consumers’ struggles with escalating premiums while insurance companies have seen extraordinary profits.

“The consumers deserve a State Senator that puts them first and not political special interests or politician’s pocketbooks. They deserve more than election year rhetoric,” commented Davis. “I look forward to standing up for what is right in Austin and making sure that in Texas, we hold the insurance industry to a higher standard.”

In his 20 years in office, Brimer has compiled a long voting record that embraces the insurance industry and he has often championed their causes. Among his long list of insurance industry friendly votes are:

  • Kim Brimer voted with the insurance industry to implement the “file and use” system that has allowed companies to raise their rates with virtually no oversight. He also voted to prevent the legislature from outlawing the unethical practice of using credit scoring as a guideline for underwriting insurance coverage. (2003, SB 14)
  • Kim Brimer voted to kill an antitrust amendment that would have prohibited anticompetitive insurance practices where companies share information such as expense data, profit data, trend factors and other information that helps them control prices. (1989, SB 255)
  • Kim Brimer voted against a temporary rate rollback on homeowner’s insurance that would have returned rates to more reasonable levels, easing the burden on the average Texan. (2003, SB 14)
  • Kim Brimer voted against a measure that would prohibit insurance companies from the unfair and deceptive act of discouraging a claimant from hiring an attorney to represent them in a claim against an insurance company. (1999, HB 1553)

“I think it is clear at this point that Kim Brimer is willing to do or say anything to get re-elected. Unfortunately, Kim Brimer has shown us time and again as an insurance man he is not going to go against his profession, his pocketbook or one of his largest sources of campaign cash,” said Matt Latham, Davis campaign spokesperson.

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