Lee’s campaign finances

Among other things, Commissioner El Franco Lee leaves behind a lot of money in his campaign finance account.

El Franco Lee

When Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee died unexpectedly Sunday, he left friends and allies in mourning, political hopefuls jockeying for his job and an uncommonly large campaign war chest of nearly $4 million.

What happens to that sum – which far outstrips the campaign cash held by all of his fellow commissioners combined – remains an open question.

All elected officials are required to disburse their political reserves after leaving office, but campaign finance experts said the present situation is unusual given the extent of Lee’s holdings, which his campaign treasurer now is tasked with distributing.

“This much money I’ve not seen before,” Austin campaign finance lawyer Buck Wood said.

Andrew Wheat, research director for the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice, agreed.

“I can’t remember this question coming up,” Wheat said. “That’s an extraordinary amount of money for a county commissioner to be sitting on.”


State law dictates that Lee’s longtime friend and campaign treasurer, J. Kent Friedman, now must disseminate those leftover political funds to one or more of the following entities within the next six years: the Democratic Party, a candidate or political committee, a charity, a scholarship program at an institution of higher education, or the state treasury. He also may return money to Lee’s donors.

Friedman said he has not considered what to do with the late commissioner’s campaign account.

“I hadn’t even thought about it until you asked the question,” he said. “I haven’t given it three seconds’ worth of thought.”

I do have some thoughts on this, but in the spirit of decorum, I’ll demur for now. I do hope that when the time comes for decisions to be made that they are made with transparency. We should know what ultimately happens with these funds.

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4 Responses to Lee’s campaign finances

  1. El Franco Lee has parks and centers named after him.

    Why not create a county public bank, with the $4 million in campaign donations, similar to the one in North Dokata. Name it after him.

    ‘Franco Lee County Public Bank’

    If it could be done, it would greatly benefit taxpayers and create a legacy for his service.

    *creating a city or county public bank does not require the state legislature and can be done via ordinance/law

  2. Steve Houston says:

    Joe, aside from the whole “one trick pony” aspect of your latest quest, do you really think all those lining up to partake in the spoils are going to offer it up instead for a public service?

  3. At least i have ideas…

  4. Steve Houston says:

    Joe, I’d never accuse you of lacking in ideas, often well researched if more appropriate for left leaning communities. Public banks via the post office or other institutions that have enough trouble with their existing core competencies strike me as a bad idea but I’m the suspicious type to begin with, some merit existing to the idea.

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