Attorney and Harris County Department of Education Trustee, Eric Dick, is facing fines amounting to $40,000 for campaign finance violations. Recently, the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) added another penalty of $10,000 to his previous fines.
The TEC ruled at the end of last month that Dick would be required to pay the additional $10,000 for campaign finance violations that occurred during his unsuccessful campaign for Harris County Treasurer in March 2022. In February 2022, he was fined $30,000 for violations made during his unsuccessful run for City Council in 2019.
According to the TEC resolution signed on September 29, Dick violated Texas Election Code statutes by failing to report two $25,000 payments to the Conservative Republicans of Texas (CRT) and the Conservative Republicans of Harris County (CRHC). Additionally, there was a discrepancy of over $100,000 reported but unaccounted-for in his pre-election filings.
Dick’s attorney, Jared Woodfill, who is also the president of CRT, had not responded to calls as of Tuesday.
The TEC also ruled that Dick acted “in bad faith” by not responding to the complaint on time. He was required to submit a written letter of response by July 1, 2022, but did not do so until eight months later, despite multiple attempts to reach him.
Although Dick submitted an amended pre-election report on April 1, 2022, disclosing a six-figure political expenditure to “The Yates Company,” the TEC ruled that it was too late after the election, and the harm to disclosure and public transparency had already occurred.
The amendment did not include the other $50,000 that Dick sent in payments to CRT and CRHC. Dick argued that these payments were not made for political purposes and did not need to be documented. He claimed that he had been supporting these organizations for many years and that the contributions were made from his personal bank account, providing checks as proof. However, the TEC rejected this explanation since CRT and CRHC were active political committees supporting candidates for public office, including Dick, at the time.
The TEC cited Dick’s previous $30,000 penalty as further justification for the recent fine.
In 2019, the Commission found that Dick funded mailers featuring prominent Black politicians without proper disclosure. These mailers included endorsements for candidates, including Dick himself. The politicians featured on the mailers, such as Barack Obama and Sheila Jackson Lee, denounced their affiliation with the group at the time.
Furthermore, Dick reported $125,000 in unspent campaign funds during the 2019 election cycle, stating that he was being cautious and reporting potential obligations for payments.
Considering the severity of Dick’s violations, the TEC imposed a $10,000 fine to deter future violations. The maximum fine could have been as high as $453,499.29, according to the resolution.
It is worth noting that Dick has previously run for City Council unsuccessfully in 2011 and 2015.
These violations highlight the importance of transparency and accountability in campaign finance. The Texas Ethics Commission’s actions demonstrate its commitment to enforcing campaign finance laws and holding individuals accountable for their actions. Such violations undermine the integrity of our political system and erode public trust. It is crucial for all candidates and elected officials to adhere to campaign finance regulations to maintain a fair and transparent electoral process.