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Michael Quinn Sullivan and His $372K Mistake


by: Chaille Jolink

Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 04:34 PM CST


Last week longtime lobbyist and lawyer Steve Bresnen called on Republican PAC leader Michael Quinn Sullivan and Tim Dunn, the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, to address a $372,000 discrepancy that was not disclosed to the IRS on a 2012 tax return, but was apparently reported to the Texas Ethics Commission.

Quorum Report noted that this most recent revelation could be the "most damaging accusation yet" against Empower Texans and Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Bresnen has filed three complaints so far with the Texas Ethics Commission against Michael Quinn Sullivan and his dark money PAC Empower Texans dba Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Bresnen has also filed a separate petition with the Texas Ethics Commission requesting rulemaking authority to ensure that all donations that are used for political purposes are disclosed, which would essentially require 501c4s to disclose their donors. The Ethics Commission has 60 days to decide on the rulemaking authority request. If it does decide that all donors need to be disclosed it could potentially reshape the political landscape for the 2014 election cycle.

A bill that would have required 501c4s to disclose their donors passed both chambers in the Texas Legislature last session, but was ultimately vetoed by Governor Perry last year.

Click below the jump to see what Bresnen had to say about his quixotic quest to shine a light on dark money in Texas politics.

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Bresnen released a detailed statement along with a memo walking through the tax filings for Empower Texans 2012 returns. The end of his memo states:

"Is Mike running a "social welfare" non-profit or just a blatant political operation in a tax-exempt disguise? He also needs to explain whether the taxpayers are subsidizing his political shenanigans through Empower Texans' tax-exempt status.  

A non-profit is not a play thing. Taxpayers allow the privilege of non-profit status to those who use it responsibly and in the public interest. Mike's actions, whether those of a scofflaw or merely slipshod, are not consistent with the public interest.

It speaks volumes about Mike's credibility and the credibility of Empower Texans that an entity that bills itself as "Texans for Fiscal Responsibility" manages its own money in such an irresponsible manner, all the while accusing others of violating the public trust. That dog won't hunt any more."

If the Texas Ethics Commission decides that there is enough evidence that one or more of the laws under its jurisdiction has been violated, they have to offer a settlement to Michael Quinn Sullivan in an effort to avoid a public hearing.

Sullivan has already rejected one settlement offer he was given by writing the word "Nuts" in big red ink on the settlement letter from the TEC, ultimately comparing himself to a WWII hero who did something similar (stay classy MQS!). The other two complaints remain pending at this time, and there is no word of when a hearing will occur after Sullivan's rejection of the first settlement.

Between the rulemaking request and the complaints against Sullivan, there is a strong possibility that the Texas Ethics Commission could drastically revise some of the election laws in Texas, and possibly dramatically change the nature of elections in Texas. And it could all be thanks to Michael Quinn Sullivan.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of the article said that Bresnen filed a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission citing the $372K reporting discrepancy. While Bresnen has filed a complaint with the TEC regarding Empower Texans's disclosures he did not file a complaint citing this particular reporting discrepancy.  



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