Nice Timing

Meeker calls on Leffingwell to give back $9,300 from Lincoln Property's lawyers

Obviously, it's no accident that Austin City Council Place 1 candidate Jason Meeker just issued a press release calling for incumbent Lee Leffingwell to return $9,300 in campaign contributions received from lawyers at Armbrust & Brown, the firm that represented Lincoln Property when it was sued by Responsible Growth for Northcross. The donations were received Nov. 20-30, 2007, coinciding with the lawsuit. Lincoln plans to build a Wal-Mart on the former Northcross Mall property. The release comes only a few hours before RG4N holds a candidate forum: tonight (Tuesday), 7-9pm, at the Ben Hur Shrine Temple at 7811 Rockwood. We assume this will be a contentious topic of conversation at the event.

“Accepting this money at the time that he did sends a terrible signal to citizens," Meeker says in the release. "Leffingwell claims at candidate forums to be on the side of neighborhoods. But how can he accept money from the very lawyers who were engaged in a lawsuit against thousands of Austin residents trying to defend their neighborhoods against irresponsible development?

“It’s a gross display of profound political tone-deafness. Leffingwell did nothing to stop the lawsuits from going to trial, and the timing of these campaign contributions is very hard to justify. It stinks and he needs to return the money,” writes Meeker.

The release highlights one donation in particular: $600 from J. Bruce Scrafford and his spouse. Scrafford was Lincoln's chief counsel in the trial.

“If there’s any suggestion of some kind of quid pro quo, I totally reject that," Leffingwell told the Chronicle. "There never has been, never will be. … My philosophy has always been that when somebody makes a contribution to my campaign, that means they’re supporting me, it doesn’t mean I’m supporting them.”

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Elections, Election 2008, Jason Meeker, Lee Leffingwell, Responsible Growth for Northcross, Wal-Mart, Armbrust & Brown, Bruce Scrafford

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