Watson got help from bundlers, but not that much

Wednesday, July 20, 2022 by Jo Clifton

In his campaign to become Austin’s next mayor, Kirk Watson has already won the title of the city’s most prodigious fundraiser for a political race. He raised more than $997,000 in time for the July 15 report. Although he benefited from the help of a dozen “consolidators”, people who collect funds on behalf of a candidate, it would be a mistake to overestimate their value.

According to a report submitted to austin monitor per campaign, bundlers raised $36,400 starting in March and ending June 28. In total, their efforts represent less than 4% of Watson’s reported revenue. Most of these people are real estate professionals.

The most successful of these bundlers, according to the list provided to the austin monitor by the campaign, was Kristen Harmon, who brought in $7,200. She is listed as Executive Director of the American Council of Engineering Companies Central Texas on LinkedIn. Scott Flack brought in $4,500, according to the campaign. He is President and Partner of Live Oak Properties.

Other bundlers include developer Daryl Kunik, who is planning major East Side development, and attorney Casey Dobson, a longtime friend of Watson’s. Dobson raised $4,500 and Kunik brought in $3,200.

Rashed Islam of HDR Engineering raised $2,800 on Watson’s behalf. Brad Winans brought in $1,800 and Victoria Li took in $1,900. Winans is the Southwest District Manager and Vice President of construction company Hensel Phelps. Li’s name is familiar to city hall watchers, as she served as director of the watershed protection department for 10 years. Since her retirement, she has been a strong advocate for the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

Bill Ball, a Kemp Properties partner, James Roohms, Kelsey Erickson and Evan Williams also raised funds for the campaign. Erickson is vice president for government affairs and advocacy at the Texas Restaurant Association. She raised $2,000. Roohms is president of CP&Y, a large construction engineering, planning and management firm. It brought in $1,300. Both Williams and Ball raised $2,400. Williams is a Commercial Realtor and Supervisor.

The campaign noted in its July 15 report that it was unable to incorporate information about the cluster into its report due to issues with the city’s software. They said, “We have attempted to include grouping information in this uploaded report in accordance with city requirements. However, there is a problem in the software that causes errors in the data that prevent it from being reported correctly. The Registrar’s Office has confirmed the software issue and informed us that they are currently working on it with their developers. ….A city spokesperson told the Monitor Tuesday via e-mail, “There are no issues or problems with the City’s software regarding filing. The user had difficulty modifying the data in a way that the system did not allow, but that “He was able to file before the deadline. Upon learning of this, our vendor has made an enhancement to the software application to make this possible for users starting today.”

District 8 council member Paige Ellis, who also received help raising funds from a consolidator, said $44,000 had been raised through June 30. She also had $56,000 in cash from last December’s fundraiser. Ellis reported that developer Daryl Kunik, who also helped Watson, raised $3,000 for his campaign. Ellis faces Conservative Richard Smith and newly announced candidate Kimberly Hawkins, who has promised not to raise or spend more than $940 on her campaign.

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