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Eversole gets slapped by Ethics Commission

County Commissioner Jerry Eversole gets hit with a $75,000 fine by the Texas Ethics Commission for failure to accurately report expenses on his campaign finance reports.

Eversole said he signed what is known as an “order and agreed resolution” so as to dispose of the state’s review of his finances, which began with a series of stories by television station KTRK. Among the issues raised then were campaign money used to pay for collectible firearms, golf outings and vacation trips.

“I have accepted responsibility for the past errors and used it as an opportunity to completely revamp our campaign finance disclosure practices,” Eversole said in a prepared statement. “I am pleased to have put this TEC inquiry behind me, and am ready to move forward.”

[…]

Eversole also agreed to reimburse his campaign $41,357.10. Former County Judge Robert Eckels, hired by Eversole to scrutinize past campaign finances and serve as his new treasurer, said in the prepared statement that all the items paid for with campaign money were “legal and legitimate,” but that Eversole agreed to pay for them personally in order to remove any doubt.

[…]

Despite not facing serious political opposition, Eversole far outspent the other commissioners in 2006 and 2007, the Chronicle has previously reported. Often the classifications for those expenditures were vague. Among the expenses he has labeled as “public relations” or “misc.” were scores of trips to coffee shops and restaurants; several expenses to gun maker Beretta USA Corp.; and $292 spent at Foot Locker. Also among his “public relations” expenses was a $6,850 trip to Florida, which attracted the attention of the DA’s office.

Eversole said in a 2007 Chronicle story that he had “never looked at one of my campaign reports,” adding that he did not believe his filings had to specify the items purchased with campaign cash. Many expenditures fit under “public relations,” he said, so that’s how his bookkeepers classified them.

Hard to believe Eversole had objected to County Judge Ed Emmett’s modest reforms on the grounds that what the TEC already required was good enough, isn’t it? I mean, clearly he’s the kind of guy who needs this sort of thing spelled out to him in excruciating detail. Maybe if that had been the case all along, his wallet wouldn’t be a bit lighter now.

As we know, Eversole still has other issues that are not yet resolved.

The FBI probe, though unconfirmed by the agency, is reported to center on design work done by prominent architect Leroy Hermes on Eversole’s home in the Heights. Hermes’ firm has been involved with county projects, but both he and Eversole insist the residential work was done without regard to political contracts, but because the two are friends. Eversole said he paid Hermes for his help in designing the house, which was built in 2003.

As Eversole is now reportedly planning to serve out the rest of his term, I suppose he’s not too worried about this right now. If and when something does happen on this front, I daresay it’ll be more unpleasant for him than what the TEC can dish out.

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