Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Annise Parker: The People's Choice ... Some of the People ... A Certain Kind of People ... But Still, Lots of People!

We have finally fulfilled our promise to roll at least half an eyeball over the July 15 campaign finance reports of the three major mayoral candidates, and we can now state unequivocally that ... are eyeballs are tired. Very. This is primarily due to the man hours our orbs logged perusing the report submitted by Annise Parker, whose list of contributors runs to 708 pages (at 4 per page, that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,800 donors) and appears to include the gifts of every Tomasina, Dick and Jose who forked over $5 for a barbecue sandwich or whatever at a Parker fund-raiser (we’re tempted to breach our Slampo’s Place Code of Ethics and write a check for 15 cents to the Parker campaign to see if it’s cashed and shows up on her pre-election report). Still, it’s a fairly impressive document,* not so much in eye-popping dollar figures but in the number and eclectic mix of contributors. Parker’s money base seems to be three-legged: local contractors and engineers who presumably have come to know and like the controller during her 10+ years at the municipal trough (we’re just presumin’--maybe she strong-armed ’em!); national and local networks of politically active gays and heretofore not-so-politically active gay businessmen and -women, and what we’ll call, for lack of a more precise characterization, a monied gay elite (locally and nationally), along with organizations and individuals with a history of donating to liberal Democratic candidates (such as $5 grand Parker donor Ellen Susman, “retiree,” of the 77019 area code); and, most interestingly, lots and lots--lots!--of small contributors who handed over amounts ranging from $25 to $500 and whose occupational profile tends to the mid-to-lower white collar: software developers and Web page designers, paralegals, an administrative library assistant, a number of “helping profession” types (teachers, social workers, etc.), a flight attendant, some city employees, a few professors, the stray “writer” or “artist” and some guy listed, unintentionally or not, as a “PsychoTherapist,” along with slightly more substantial gifts from doctors, attorneys, developers and mid-level oil company execs. While this suggests that Parker’s support is deep, it’s not necessarily wide, at least donation-wise: We counted but 17 contributors from our out-of-the-way and tenuously Republican-inclined zip code on the unfashionable end of the city’s southwest side, compared to well over 250 from 77006, which includes the most Montrose-y parts of Montrose (we have a hard time imagining the way most of our neighbors will go, once they hear there’s an election and the main contenders are a gay gal, a black guy and a rich urban planner who summer vacations in France---yowza!).

Parker’s most generous source of money appears to be the Cobb Fendley engineering firm, which according to its Web site contracted with the city to turn part of Cook Road into a boulevard (little touch of Paree in Olde Alief!). The firm’s PAC donated the maximum $10,000, while vice presidents Dale Conger, James Mark Sappington and Monica Silver each gave $2,000, vice president Stephanie Funk gave $2,500 and president Allen Dale Watson chipped in another $2K. Parker’s other maxed-out $10,000 PAC contributor was Anne’s List of Austin, which distributes money to liberal-y gal candidates (such as state Rep.Ellen Cohen). The Fulbright & Jaworski law firm was also good to Parker during the first half of this year, with its PAC kicking in $7,500 and individual attorneys donating more than $11,000 (or thereabouts). Other big institutional investors in the Parker campaign include the Houston Associated General Contractors PAC ($5K), the D.C.-based Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund ($6,235) and the delinquent-tax collecting firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair Etc. ($2.5K).

Among other maximum individual donors to Parker were, in no particular order, lawyer Melanie Gray of the Weil, Gotshal & Manges firm; software entrepreneur Tim Gill, president of the Denver-based Gill Foundation, which calls itself one of the nation's “largest funders focusing primarily on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights”; Mike Garver of BRH-Garver Construction; a James G. Stepp of Fort Lauderdale; Inderjit Kaur, a manager with financial software developer Intuit in Mountain View, Calif.; Georgia Anne Bost of Waller-based Village Botanica; Truman Edminster of the Edminster Hinshaw Russ engineering firm, which has been involved in Midtown redevelopment; Ray C. Davis of Spring, CEO of spooky Behavioral Recognition Systems (and a McCain man in ’08!) and his wife Debi (that is, $10,000 total); J. Nick Koston of cPanel; Aimee Boone, director of of the Texas Democratic Trust; self-employed investor John D. Freeman; tech investor William Edwrads of Austin; Houston lawyer Donald J. Farris; investor Ronald Bailey; “community volunteer” Naomi Aberly of Dallas (an Al Franken donor in '08!); Houston lawyer Pablo Escamilla; Susan Alleman of Traffic Engineers; Geoffrey Westergaard, who must be doing quite well in sales at Carl Moore Antiques Inc.; an Edward Fraser of Bayshore, N.Y.; Robert Fretz of Fretz Construction; Janet Harrell, area exploration manager for Shell; and Janet Guidry of Houston, occupation/time-killing activity unspecified. Parker also tapped a money spigot in San Antonio (Gene Locke tapped one in New Orleans), where she received maximum contributions from “homemaker” Leticia Rodriguez; boutique owner Fabeloa Diaz-Rodrigues; sales rep Julio C. Rodriguez; lawyer Douglas Poneck and wife Elizabeth ($5K each); and Dawn LaFreed, who apparently owns some Denny’s outlets that we may or may not have patronized.

Celebrity contributors--and here we’re stretching the definition of “celebrity” way beyond the word’s standard tensility--include former Montrose state rep and Linebarger Goggan attorney Debra Danburg ($250); Rice U political scientist Chandler Davidson ($50); Democratic candidate-in-waiting Chris Bell ($750); onetime Merchant Prince Robert Sakowitz ($100; also a donor to Parker foe Peter Brown); caterer Jackson Hicks ($1,000), and onetime Dem gubernatorial candidate Sissy Farenthold ($54). Media moguls include Greg Jeu, publisher of OutSmart magazine, a 5K donor, and fellow OutSmart publisher James Hurst, who contributed $4,504 in advertising, as well as Roger A. Bare, vice president/general manager for Channel 39 and Thomas Purser, vice president of the local Comcast cable operation ($500 each). On the non-mogulish media side were Clyde Peterson ($100), who we guess is the old Chronicle cartoonist of the same name, and one Daniel Pritchett, identified as a Chronicle copy editor, who could spare but $50 but no doubt has made invaluable contributions in seeing that his candidate’s Christian name is always spelled with two n’s. And then there’s our old pal Juan Ramon Palomo, formerly Houston’s only openly gay three-named Hispanic newspaper columnist, who, despite his current lofty perch as “senior communications adviser” for the American Petroleum Institute in D.C., was good for only $100 to Parker (but from each according to his abilities, as some dead German philosopher put it).

That guy also said something to the effect of "to each according to his needs," and while we're sure the Parker campaign does not subscribe to the nostrums of dead 19th century German philosophers, it certainly realizes that it’s good to get but better to give (or so we’ve heard), and early on in its effort doled out generous $1,000 "sponsorships" to the Houston Area Women’s Center, the Houston Food Bank, the local SPCA and the Houston Zoo. For some reason the League of Women Voters got but $900, New Life Christ Baptist Church but $300, the local LULAC Council but $175 and a mere $60 went to the Harris County GOP. The Harris County Democratic Party, meanwhile, got $4,050 from Parker’s campaign. (Spreadin' it around! Just like Enron!)

*We are easily impressed, however.


John Coby said...

And me! I gave $25. Twice!

Slampo said...

And you can give $4,950 more, John Coby.