Payment for CS Recall Plane Banner Revealed

By: Sylvia Villarreal & Steve Fullhart Email
By: Sylvia Villarreal & Steve Fullhart Email

Final Save Wellborn Campaign Finance Report
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All Finance Reports for 2011 Municipal Elections
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Texas Election Code, Chapter 255
(Regulating Political Advertising and Campaign Contributions)

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Saturday's election may be over, but the questions are just beginning to be answered regarding a plane circling over College Station on Election Day.

For six hours Saturday, a plane with a banner reading "LAST CHANCE -- RECALL MAYOR BERRY -- VOTE TODAY" flew over the city, referring to College Station Mayor Nancy Berry.

Monday, the political action committee Save Wellborn and one of its leaders, Timothy Delasandro, filed the PAC's final campaign finance report as required by law, which covers from May 5 to May 14. That document included a payment of $2,190 to National Sky Signs out of the Houston area.

Also on that finance report was a listed contribution to Save Wellborn of $2,190 by Mark McMillan, husband of College Station Councilmember Jana McMillan.

The Place 5 representative, who chose not to run for re-election after just seven months on the council, was one of the thousands who signed petitions to recall Berry, along with fellow councilmembers Katy-Marie Lyles and Dave Ruesink. Supporters of the right to vote for residents of the community of Wellborn began the petition after the council voted to continue studies of annexation.

The community was eventually annexed in a majority vote, with McMillan as one of the dissenters. The propositions on the ballot to recall Berry, Lyles and Ruesink were defeated in landslides Saturday.

McMillan's final council meeting is Thursday. Julie Schultz will replace her.

When contacted Monday evening, Berry said she was surprised when she heard her name was flying above the city, but as for who paid for the banner, she withheld comment.

The banner was seven feet tall, according to National Sky Signs. It did not appear to include any language on who paid for the sign.

"Political advertising" must state or read that it is political advertising, according to the Texas Election Code. It also must display the name of the person or group who paid for the ad or "the candidate or specific-purpose committee supporting the candidate, if the political advertising is authorized by the candidate," the code reads.

According to Section 255.001, those rules do not apply to event tickets or invitations, nor campaign buttons, pins, hats, or similar materials, nor circulars or fliers costing less than $500.

A fine upwards of $4,000 is possible for violations.

In addition to filing the finance report, Delasandro signed an affidavit of dissolution, terminating the campaign treasurer and ending all political expenditures and contributions.

This was not Mark McMillan's first contribution to the Save Wellborn PAC. In the second finance report covering January 1 to April 5, McMillan is shown to have donated $2,313.04 on March 14, the same day his wife announced she would not seek re-election. That exact same amount was spent by the PAC on the purchase of signs from Michael Franks Printing in Huntsville, which operates The Texas GOP Store website.

The third finance report for the PAC runs from April 6 to May 4. McMillan made a $3,000 contribution on April 20, and another $600 contribution on May 4.

In its first finance report covering up to December 31, 2010, a $300 expenditure was listed for furniture rental from "Body Built" in Navasota. Mark McMillan is president and chief operating officer of ErgoGenesis based in Navasota, which is the manufacturer of BodyBilt ergonomic chairs.

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