By George Boehme
A slate of candidates which has stealthily made youth sports funding its key issue has brought national conservative Republican political strategy and money into West University’s municipal elections in a big way, a late finance report shows.
Already 2,348 West U voters have cast their ballots in Saturday’s (May 1) general election, too late for any of them turned off by the actions of West U Residents for Better Leadership to vote accordingly. The PAC missed Friday’s (April 23) filing deadline, electronically filing on Saturday after being contacted for an EssentialsNews.com story on campaign finance reporting that detailed its failure to comply with state election law.
The PAC, complying with the transparency required in the filing, declares its support for Susan Sample, the former mayor hoping to regain her seat, and newcomer candidates Melanie Bell, Shannon Carroll and John Montgomery — and its opposition to Kevin Trautner, the current mayor pro tem who’s running for mayor, and incumbent councilmembers John Barnes, Lauri Lankford and Ed Sobash.
The PAC has attracted $24,745.87 in contributions and had spent $24,600 supporting Sample, Bell, Carroll and Montgomery, as of the filing, visibly through three mailings and one video infomercial.
The largest contribution, $10,000, came from Axiom Consulting. That’s a Greenway Plaza campaign firm termed “one of the nation’s biggest Republican strategy shops,” founded by Jeff Roe, a Southside Place resident who came to Texas from Missouri at Ted Cruz’s behest to run his 2012 U.S. Senate campaign — and stayed.
He’s run Cruz’s campaigns ever since, and handled a number of prominent Texas and national races for conservative Republicans, with a reputation as a “bad boy” and for “gutter politics.”
Another $11,000 came from three sources — Robert Corrigan of West U, a longtime youth sports advocate with RISE Soccer and the board of the South Campus Sports Association, $1,000; Jenny McCarthy, president of the West University Softball Association $5,000; and James (Greg) Waller, treasurer, Tri-Sports Association, $5,000.
A second PAC — West U Residents for Youth Sports — filed its report on time, reporting contributions of $16,621 and spending of $8,229. That included a $5,000 contribution to the Sample campaign, which her campaign did not include on its report. Her treasurer has yet to respond to Essentials/InstantNews’ request for an explanation.
The youth sports controversy began simmering in fall of 2019 when, after a lengthy review of various expenditures, City Council voted not to provide an annual $125,000 subsidy to Tri-Sports, which includes West University Little League and Softball and RISE Soccer, serving families from more than 100 ZIP codes. The city and Tri-Sports renewed their memo of understanding, providing use of the city’s fields, utilities and other services in exchange for maintenance by the leagues. The subsidy was withheld when Tri-Sports refused to provide any accountability for how it was spending the funds.
Early voting for mayor and four council seats ended Tuesday. Voting in the general election will be conducted from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, with polling places at West University City Hall, 3801 University Blvd.; Southside Place Park Clubhouse, 3743 Garnet St., and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 5308 Buffalo Speedway.