State Rep. Poncho Nevárez has been slapped with a $15,000 fine for violating several campaign finance statutes in reports ranging over a period of years.
The Texas Ethics Commission levied the penalty to resolve complaints alleging that Nevárez:
- accepted political contributions from corporations and labor organizations,
- misreported either the total amount of political contributions maintained or failed to report some political contributions and expenditures,
- did not properly disclose political contributions, loans and political expenditures,
- failed to disclose employment details for multiple contributors and
- made improper personal reimbursements.
These violations were made in four campaign finance reports that the Eagle Pass Democrat filed to the commission between January 2013 and January 2015, according to the commission’s order, which was released Monday.
Nevárez told The Texas Tribune on Monday that the violations were the result of sloppiness, not ill will. But he accepted responsibility for the infractions.
"There's nothing nefarious about it," he said. "It was unintentional. We didn't do it to mislead anybody."
Nevárez added that his campaign has worked to overhaul its record-keeping system. Campaign staffers will now photocopy all checks and be more diligent in collecting donor information.
The commission found that in the four reports at issue, there was often a discrepancy between the total political contributions maintained and the campaign’s bank account balance. This difference was at times greater than $18,000.
Nevárez also failed to document $94,124.92 of political expenditures and $111,423.10 of political contributions and loans of personal funds. Those figures appeared in bank records but not were not documented in his campaign finance reports.
Nevárez blamed those omissions on “incomplete recordkeeping and inadequate communication with campaign staff,” according to the TEC report. The representative also told the commission that “appropriate safeguards” have been put in place to ensure accurate reporting in future.
Other charges were less serious. For example, Nevárez failed to disclose the full name for certain donors, writing "NCHA" instead of "NCHA Texas Events PAC" for one contributor and writing “MALC” instead of "Mexican American Legislative Caucus" for one payee. Nevárez also failed to report the addresses for dozens of payees — an “oversight by his campaign,” he said.