FORT WORTH — A political action committee established by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has raised $31,950 to help garner support for the Fort Worth school bond plan, which goes before voters Nov. 5.The Fort Worth school district has proposed a $490 million bond plan that would pay for an array of projects, including new classrooms, increased security, technology upgrades, and magnet schools for arts and science.Three political action committees have been established to support or oppose the bond plan. The deadline for two of the groups to submit campaign contribution reports was 5 p.m. Monday. The largest contribution reported was $10,000 to the chamber’s group, Citizens Supporting Classroom Excellence, by Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a law firm that collects delinquent taxes for government entities, including the school district. Marilyn Gilbert, executive vice president of marketing for the chamber, said the chamber has been fundraising for about six weeks and plans to continue to.“We are making some headway,” Gilbert said. “As we raise more and more dollars, we are able to do more and more activities.”She said the group is trying to distribute yard signs to supporters. “We’ll be doing some social media and hopefully we will have direct mail,” Gilbert said, adding that direct mail will likely educate people about early and mail-in voting. Gilbert said The Eppstein Group has helped with strategy and artwork.The chamber supports the bond because “education of our workforce is critical,” she said.Campaign documents are received and maintained by the district, said Hank Johnson, the deputy superintendent of business, finance and operations.The district has no other role in the reporting matter, he said.“We have no governance over PACs at all,” Johnson said. “All we do is provide a place for them to deliver their campaign finance reports.”The reports are available on the school district’s website. As of Tuesday, Citizens Supporting Classroom Excellence and FWISD Parents for Kids had submitted reports.A third group, It’s Ok to Say No to the School Bond, had not submitted a report. The group appears to have formed after the end of the Sept. 26 campaign reporting period. Tim Sorrells, general counsel for the Texas Ethics Commission, said that if a specific-use political action committee forms after the reporting period, then its activity will be documented in the next report.The next reporting date is Oct. 28, according to the state.The reports are filed at the local level, so the state doesn’t know whether groups fail to file unless a civil complaint is made with the Texas Ethics Commission or a criminal complaint is filed with a county or district attorney.At the civil level, the commission would review a complaint to determine whether it is valid. The school district doesn’t have an enforcement arm.“If we don’t get them, we don’t go out and chase them out at all,” Johnson said. “As a courtesy, we post them online so the public has access to the reports.”The district does not forward the reports to the state, Johnson said.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1