|Pic from the Houston Chronicle|
Eric Dick, a Trustee on the Harris County Department of Education has been fined $30,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission for his deceptive mailer supporting his run for City Council back in 2019. Dick is an attorney and the TEC has also referred him to the Texas Bar.
Background: In 2019 an endorsement mailer was sent by the Harris County Black Democratic News (not registered with the TEC) in support of Eric Dick against Sallie Alcorn. The mailer gave the impression that prominent Black elected officials had endorsed a slate of candidates including Dick. They had not. The mailers can be viewed below. You can read the article by the Houston Chronicle here.
“I have never been contacted by the Harris County Black Democratic News, nor am I sure that they are a legitimate news or community organization,” said state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, who is pictured on the mailer. “I did not consent to being included in the Harris County Black Democratic News and am appalled that a group would go to this extent to mislead voters.”
Last week the Commission held a formal joint hearing for Philip Bryant owner of HCBDN and Eric Dick and rendered their decision. The 60 minute video is available online here starting at 1:20:00. Select the hearing for the Texas Ethics Commission on 2/24/22. Dick was subpoenaed but did not show. The owner of the printer used by Dick was subpoenaed but did not show. Phillip Bryant, friend and client of Dick, was fined $6500 for failure to respond to the complaint among other things. He did not show either.
The Commission Staff had recommended a fine of $20,000. The Commissioners added an additional $10,000. The video is pretty damning with Dick's attorney being asked if he had any evidence in defense of his client, Dick. He admitted he had none but used his time to ramble on with baseless allegations. (at 2:10:47 of the video)
Some of the most damning parts of the hearing was evidence that showed:
- Dick paid for the mailer but did not disclose it on his ethics report
- Dick claimed he had nothing to do with the mailer but receipts and emails between him and the printer show this was not true.
- Dick instructed the printer to NOT include the political disclaimer "Political Ad Paid for by...."
- Dick originally claimed reported expenses of $107,000 was for "political advertising" and correctly reported on his ethics reports but then later acknowledged he never paid anyone for any services. Why would he do this?
- Dick paid a total of $107,000 to organizations the TEC could not find for example he paid $12,500 to Blaze Campaign Consulting. The TEC Staff said this entity does not exist.
- Dick may have lied to the Texas Ethics Commission (under oath?) on multiple issues