Far-away funds fuel Kyle council race: Out-of-state donations pour into local campaigns

By Andy Sevilla

Political contributions from outside of Kyle are largely funding two campaigns in the race for the city’s top elected office.


Mayoral race finances

Mayoral candidates James Adkins and Brad Pickett gained most of their campaign war chests from financial donations coming from outside the city limits, and as far as from Indiana and Louisiana, respectively, according to campaign finance reports due 30 days before the May 10 election.

Meanwhile, a third candidate for mayor, Todd Webster, has mostly self-funded his run for Kyle’s top elected job.

From January 1 through April 10, Pickett raised $4,600 from three major donors, of which about 65 percent of those dollars came from persons outside of Kyle, according to his campaign report covering activity from Jan. 1 through April 10. 

The single largest donation during the entire campaign season – $2,500 – was to Pickett. That money came from Candi Funderburk, an anesthesiology nurse of Florien, Louisiana, the report states. 

Funderburk works with Dr. Glen Hurlston, an anesthesiology doctor who is suing the city of Kyle and its police chief for alleged civil rights violations stemming from a 2012 New Year’s Day arrest.

Police Chief Jeff Barnett, through his attorney, has called the lawsuit frivolous and Kyle city officials issued a statement in January saying the suit was “without merit, substance or viability.” 

According to his report, Pickett also received $1,500 from PGI Investment, LLC, of Cypress, Texas, the company that owns the property in south Kyle where a truck stop was proposed – and twice denied, in split votes, by the city’s elected officials. 

A recent criminal complaint filed against Pickett questions whether the mayoral candidate can receive a contribution from a company with owners involved in several corporations. In Texas, corporations are banned from contributing toward a candidate’s election efforts. 

The Texas Ethics Commission has opined that limited liability companies with corporate partners may not fund candidates’ election efforts.

However, Pickett maintains that PGI is not owned in whole or in part by a corporation, and therefore the company is allowed to donate to his campaign. Of the $4,600 Pickett raised, $4,474.22 was spent on printing, hardware and a meet and greet event, according to his report.

Pickett remained with $125.78 in his campaign war chest as of April 10, according to the report. For a more thorough analysis of Pickett’s campaign finance reports, see the story on Pg. 1A titled, “Pickett campaign finances investigated.”

From Jan. 1 through April 10, slightly more than 73 percent of the political contributions Adkins received came from donors in Austin, San Marcos, Houston, Waxahachie, Westlake Hills, and Indianapolis, Indiana, according to his report. 

Adkins received $3,000 in total political contributions, according to his report, with the largest donation – $1,000 – coming from Edward Coleman, a developer from Westlake Hills.

The candidate also expended $2,338.25 of those funds on printing, gas for in-district travel, a small computer and office supplies, the report stated. He remained with $1,387.94 to continue his pitch for mayor as of April 10, according to his report. 

During the same reporting period, Webster raised $4,500 in political contributions, according to his report. 

Webster has been his own largest contributor, giving his campaign just over 66 percent — $3,000 – of its funding. He also received three contributions – $1,000 – from outside Kyle’s city limits, with the largest coming from Chad Cantella, a principal with Texas Star Alliance, an Austin-based public affairs consulting group.  

Of the money raised through April 10, Webster spent $2,932.36 on printing and campaign materials, according to his report. He remained with $1,567.64 as of April 10. 


Council race finances

District 2 incumbent Becky Selbera, who is being challenged by a former councilman, has raised $100 in her reelection bid, according to her April 10 campaign finance report. 

That contribution came from former State Representative Patrick Rose and his wife Anna Carbajal of San Marcos, the report states. Selbera spent $98.36 on advertising and dinner for helpers, according to her report. She remains with no political funding in her campaign account, per the report. 

Jaime Sanchez, who is challenging 12-year incumbent Selbera, received two political contributions through April 10. 

Sanchez received $80 from Michael and Julie Watkins of San Marcos, and $30 from Joel Garcia of Buda, according to his report. Sanchez has spent $150 on hardware for a campaign sign, his reports states. He also spent $70 of his own money at Home Depot for his campaign, his reports states. He is not seeking reimbursement for that contribution, according to the report. 

Sanchez remains with a negative balance in his campaign account.

District 4 incumbent David Wilson has outraised his challenger, Laurie Luttrell, by almost 100 percent, according to each candidate’s latest campaign finance reports. 

Wilson has raised $1,225 through April 10, with his largest contribution – $250 —coming from Thomas Turk of Bulverde. Turk is the transportation manager for M&S Engineering, LLC. 

According to his campaign finance report, Wilson spent $1,003.26 on advertising, including the campaign website, door hangers and supplies.  He reports having $526 in his campaign account, the April 10 report states. 

Luttrell, a political newcomer challenging a six-year incumbent, raised $650 through April 10, her finance report states. Her largest contribution – $250 – came from Michael and Julie Watkins of San Marcos. 

According to Luttrell’s report, Hays County Pct. 2 Justice of the Peace Beth Smith contributed $100 to her campaign. 

Luttrell reported $429.50 in expenses for campaign signs, as well as $80.54 in non-itemized expenditures. 

She reportedly maintained $569.46 in her campaign account as of April 10. 

All candidates for office will have to file an updated campaign finance report on May 2, eight days before the May 10 election.

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