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The $25,000 question

What the hell?

A $25,000 campaign contribution to a Houston school board member normally would raise eyebrows for its size.

Add in the fact that the donation was not listed in the trustee’s financial disclosure forms, and the five-figure check becomes evidence in a lawsuit.

A Houston construction firm, the Gil Ramirez Group, alleged in new federal court filings this week that the check to HISD board member Larry Marshall’s campaign was part of a bribery and conspiracy scheme meant to benefit certain companies.

The check to Marshall’s campaign in November 2009 came from David Medford, who runs Fort Bend Mechanical. The Stafford company has received millions of dollars from the Houston Independent School District for construction work.

“Anytime you see a $25,000 contribution to a school board member from a company that does business with the school district – and that large contribution is not reported as required by law – one has to conclude undue influence is at play,” said Chad Dunn, a Houston attorney.

Dunn is representing the Gil Ramirez Group in the federal lawsuit against Marshall and HISD.

Can someone please explain to me why school board elections aren’t subject to campaign contribution limits like Houston municipal elections are? Because I sure can’t think of a legitimate reason for anyone to give $25K to a school board candidate, let alone an entity that does business with the school district. If this isn’t something that can be addressed by those new ethics rules HISD is considering then it really needs to be addressed by the Legislature in 2013. Campos has more.

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  1. […] here, here, and here for some background. I’m glad that HISD, which spent $1.5 million defending […]