Voters in the 2018 election cycle wiped out a trio of Republican incumbents on the Texas Third Court of Appeals — a tragedy for conservatives repeated in many races, particularly judicial contests, across the Lone Star State.
Of the casualties was Third Court of Appeals Justice in David Puryear, who had served since 2000. Replacing him was Thomas Baker, a Democrat.
Leave it to the Travis County Republicans (in deep blue territory centered in notoriously liberal Austin) to make sure that Baker has every “i” dotted and every “t” crossed. Apparently he did not, according to a press release from the Travis GOP, which sent out this press release Friday morning involving missing money and skipped deadlines in Baker’s campaign finance reports.
AUSTIN — A freshman Democratic appeals court justice may have run his campaign touting his experience in the courtroom.
But Justice Thomas Baker’s experience in running a campaign apparently has much to be desired, according to several inconsistencies discovered in his legally required campaign finance paperwork.
The Travis County Republican Party filed a sworn complaint on Tuesday (Aug. 13), noting the numerous errors and miscalculations.
“When considering the complicated nature of his profession and researching caselaw, how can we expect Justice Baker to issue competent rulings if he cannot file accurate campaign finance reports?” said Matt Mackowiak, Chairman of the Travis County Republican Party. “The problems we discovered are indicative of mismanagement and could foreshadow ethical problems. The voters of Texas demand better out of our elected jurists.”
Below are the campaign finance violation allegations included in the complaint:
- Violation 1: Deadline missed — Baker missed the filing deadline, which is 5 p.m. on the last day of filing (Jan. 15) in paper or by midnight electronically. Baker filed on Jan. 16, 2019, per the digital file stamp used by the TEC (see 254.037 and 254.063 of the Texas Election Code and Texas Ethics Commission Rule 18.7).
- Violation 2: Misrepresenting campaign treasurer information — On Baker’s Jan. 15, 2019, semiannual report (actually filed on Jan. 16), it is represented as a “15th Day After Campaign Treasurer Appointment (Officeholder Only)” report. This is incorrect as Baker has had a Judicial Campaign Treasurer appointee on file with the Commission since Nov. 7, 2017 (see 254.094 of the Texas Election Code).
- Violation 3: Failure to report a personal loan — Baker, on his July 15, 2018, semiannual report, failed to accurately report a loan to himself with the required information (see 253.0351 of the Texas Election Code and 20.63 of Texas Ethics Commission Rules).
- Violation 4: Missing funds — On Baker’s January 2019 semiannual report, the total contributions minus the total expenditures equals $6,450. However, Baker shows a total “contributions maintained” of $6,500 with an outstanding loan total of $1,000. There are no expenditures reflected on any other campaign finance report to indicate that the loan was paid, reducing the overall loan balance to $250 as reflected on this report (see 254.031 of the Texas Election Code and 20.63 of Texas Ethics Commission Rules).
A list of all supporting documentation, including the sworn complaint and exhibits, may be viewed at TravisGOP.com/ThomasBakerfilings
Baker, a Democrat, is on his first term as a Third Court of Appeals Justice, having replaced Republican Justice David Puryear who had served since 2000. …
Disclaimer: The writer of this article serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party.