1. The four campaign finance reports Hoang filed with the city make a mockery of the notion of “disclosure” and hardly conform to the spirit of the law, much less the letter. Hoang does not list a single date for any contribution he received, nor does he list a single occupation of even one donor (his defeated runoff opponent, Mike Laster, appears to have been fairly meticulous in listing occupations when so required; other candidates for city offices, including one who ran for mayor, were of course not so scrupulous). The Texas Election Code requires that campaign finance reports include the full names of contributors who give more than $50 as well the dates of the contributions. Additionally, the city requires inclusion of the “occupation and employer of each person making one or more political contributions that in the aggregate exceed $500 in a reporting period.”
2. By law, campaign finance reports are to cover a specific time period. For instance, the report candidates were to file on Oct. 5 covered the July 1-Sept. 24 period, the Oct. 24 report was to cover Sept. 25 through Oct. 24, etc. Not one of Hoang’s reports specifies a time period for the reported contributions and expenses. We hesitate to try to explain or even make an educated guess on exactly what Hoang intended, because these documents are so far afield from what is required by law, but it appears he was reporting the same line-item donations and expenses on more than one report. Again, that’s a guess, because it’s difficult to reconcile Hoang’s figures. (On his Oct. 5 report, apparently the first he filed, Hoang reported raising $20,875, spending $8442 and having $8,572 on hand, but his line-item expenses amount to only about $3,450.) The other possibility is that Hoang and at least one of his contributors violated the city’s $5,000 ceiling on contributions from individuals, because Hoang listed the one $5K gift he reported, from a Dong (or Duong) Hai of the 77036 zip code, on his reports of Oct. 30, Nov. 14 and Dec. 8. We suppose the councilman-elect isn’t dopey enough to report $10,000 in illegal contributions, but we don’t know the man. He obviously isn’t smart enough to figure out the relatively simple legal requirements of campaign finance reporting.
3. Then there’s the somewhat unusual if apparently not unprecedented practice of inflating both sides of the disclosure ledger by reporting some contributions as expenditures, or vice-versa. For instance, Hoang’s Oct. 30 report lists a $9,910 contribution from Ocean Palace, a restaurant at 11215 Bellaire Blvd. (we presume he meant the owner, because businesses are prohibited from making direct contributions to candidates), along with the unusual notation “5K in food contributed by the owner, remainder collected in cash at the end if event, which paid for the rest of the food/event.” On the same report, Hoang lists $9,910 in expenditures to Ocean Palace, along with the same notation regarding “food contributed by owner.” Hoang did the same contribution/expenditure double-dip when listing his, ah, interactions with local media. (At the risk of exposing our self to charges of racism and bigotry from one of Hoang’s Caucasian campaign flunkies, we’ll note for the record that Hoang’s media expenses/contributions/whatever appear to have been almost exclusively with Vietnamese-language publications and radio. )
4. Hoang has no excuse for this. He’s a lawyer, and it wasn’t his first rodeo, as he’s previously run for an at-large council seat and a state district judgeship (resulting in at least one fine for a late campaign finance report to the Texas Ethics Commission, which apparently was waived). The mind boggles at two, four, six years of Al Hoang on the city council.
Photo, top right: "Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care ...."