D3: Ethics Charge Filed Against Almanza

The infighting among candidates in the crowded District 3 City Council race continues

Susana Almanza
Susana Almanza

Update: In a sworn affidavit, Almanza said she has corrected the "unintentional" campaign reporting error, filed by Wray. In her letter, Almanza alleges similar campaign finance reporting errors by City Council candidates in District 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10.

The infighting among candidates in the crowded District 3 City Council race continues. First, it was a kerfuffle over campaign yard signs between two of the nearly dozen competing candidates, then accusations of intimidation, and now, a campaign violation claim has emerged.

Stefan Wray
Stefan Wray (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Montopolis community activist Stefan Wray filed an ethics complaint against D3 candidate Susana Almanza for failing to disclose the occupation and employer of 23 financial contributors who donated $200 or more to the campaign. Under municipal campaign finance code, that's a Class C misdemeanor violation, punishable by a fine of up to $500. The code also indicates each contribution can be treated as a separate violation (meaning Almanza could face up to $11,500 in fines). "I decided to file this complaint not because I want to bring financial harm to Almanza and her campaign," Wray said in a statement. "However, I think that Almanza's lack of attention to detail should send a signal to voters about her capacity to run city government."

Almanza doesn't outright deny the allegations, filed with the City Clerk last week, but the longtime community activist contends that the complaint is purely politically motivated. In an email to members of PODER, the environmental organization she heads, Almanza accuses Wray – a supporter of D3 opponent Mario Cantu – of unfairly "targeting" her campaign, pointing out that six other candidates (from all the district races combined) have made similar omissions.

In his defense, Wray said his interest is primarily focused on his own district and that he, in fact, did review campaign finance reports filed by D3 candidates Fred McGhee, Shaun Ireland, Eric Rangel, Julian Limon Fernandez, Sabino Renteria, and Mario Cantu. "I did not see the same omissions in District 3 financial reports," said Wray in a message addressed to La Raza Roundtable members. "So in this sense I'm not 'targeting' her campaign (as she would say) out of the full field of all 10 districts; rather I am seeing that her reporting – amongst the candidates in District 3 – had important errors. These should be brought to light." While Wray admits he's a Cantu supporter, he said the ethics complaint was not filed under the direction or approval of the candidate.

In the end, it'll be up to the Council-appointed Ethics Review Commission to determine if any wrongdoing occurred. But considering the deep-seated tensions among neighborhood factions, don't expect this to be the last of the D3 mudslinging.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More City Council
Council: Can Social Impact Investing End Homelessness?
Council: Can Social Impact Investing End Homelessness?
Catching up with the dais as they bet on success

Mike Clark-Madison, March 29, 2019

Council: Child Care “Scandal” Highlights City’s Own Failures
Council: Child Care “Scandal” Highlights City’s Own Failures
CMs also mull fate of APL’s Recycled Reads

Nina Hernandez, Feb. 15, 2019

More November 2014 Election
Turnout in the Council Races
Turnout in the Council Races
Lots of "undervoting" in the 10-1 races

Nov. 21, 2014

Race-Based Voting?
Race-Based Voting?
Some AISD candidates say names, race influenced election

Richard Whittaker, Nov. 14, 2014

More by Mary Tuma
East Austin Planned Parenthood Safe … For Now
East Austin Planned Parenthood Safe … For Now
New state law shouldn't impact East Seventh clinic

June 17, 2019

Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett Demand Voter Purge Documents
Joaquin Castro and Lloyd Doggett Demand Voter Purge Documents
If state leaders have “nothing to hide, why wouldn’t they turn those documents over?”

June 14, 2019


City Council, November 2014 Election, 10-1, Susana Almanza, Mario Cantu, Stefan Wray, Campaign Finance

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle