Debra Lehrmann may have violated campaign finance laws during her bid to become the Republican nominee for the Texas Supreme Court, according to a complaint filed today with the Texas Ethics Commission.
Texans for Public Justice says $20,100 the Fort Worth district court judge received from her mother-in-law, Norma J. Talley, appears to flout the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act’s $5,000 cap on individual campaign contributions and "may have shaped the outcome of the race for the Place 3 open seat." The law excludes immediate family members — defined as children, parents, siblings, grandchildren and grandparents — as well as bank loans from the limits imposed by the act.
When she advanced to the Republican runoff with former state Rep. Rick Green, R-Dripping Springs, Lehrmann raised nearly $280,000 to defeat him. She is competing in the general election with Democrat Jim Sharp, who sits on Houston's 1st Court of Appeals.
Lehrmann said this morning she had just gotten word of the complaint. "Of course, we certainly did not intend to violate any ethical rules,” she said, “And if something inadvertently happened, we will correct it immediately." If the ethics commission finds her in violation, Lehrmann could face a fine of up to three times the amount the contribution exceeds the $5,000 cap — or up to $45,300.