Sunday, April 18, 2021

Citizens Should Track Streams of Influence in City Politics, Part 2

To recap from part 1, Tupps opened its doors in 2015. A local PAC in McKinney called McKinney Team also started in 2015. Three members of the McKinney Team PAC are also on the board of Tupps. Tupps has gotten over $15 million in city dollars through the MEDC, MCDC, and the TIRZ#1 fund since 2015.

Who is the McKinney Team? From their website:

"McKinneyTEAM was formed by a group of business and civic leaders who acknowledge the previous success of our city, but have a vision to raise the bar for the future. As a coalition of seasoned executives we will attempt to establish an honest forum for issues to be discussed and strong leadership to advocate for our community’s future. McKinneyTEAM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit political action committee organized and operating under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, reporting to the Texas Ethics Commission as a General Committee.” 

McKinney Team started out in 2015 with five members: Bill Darling, co-founder of Darling Homes and Tupps board member; David Brooks, former city council member, CEO of Independent Bank and Tupps board member; Pete Huff, former city council member and chairman of WattMaster Controls; Ernest Lynch, Medical Center of McKinney CEO; and Jack Radke, Ag Power owner and CEO. Two others were later added: Roger Harris, former city council member and business owner; Bruce Mead, a retired executive and Tupps board member.

In 2017, David Brooks, McKinney Team member, Tupps board member, and CEO of Independent Bank, helped get Independent Bank a relocation (from one part of town to another) and incentive package worth over $6 million from the MEDC and city. In 2019, Independent Bank got its low-income health clinic over $2.5 million in city and MCDC funding even though there were already several needy low-income health clinics in the area. This is all in addition to the over $11 million Tupps deal. This year, the McKinney Team is monetarily backing a city council candidate for District 1 who is an employee of Independent Bank. If this person wins his race, will he be required to recuse himself from any and all Independent Bank dealings that come before city council?

PACs can make direct monetary donations to specific candidates that are easier to track. PACs can also make in-kind donations to candidates in non-monetary forms: campaign strategic services, design services, website services, mailing lists, stickers, email blasts, endorsement brochures, voter lists, press releases, videos, professional pictures, meet & greet organization, catering, venue rentals, billboards, and more. 

The McKinney Team is really the only local PAC in McKinney that provides campaign-changing monetary support, organization help, and the goods necessary to have a hefty advantage over any opponents. PAC filings for McKinney Team can be found here

When the McKinney Team first started, it was not successful with its initial candidate picks for local office in the 2015-2016 period. It has been successful, however, with its support of nearly all city and MISD bond elections. 

Starting in 2017, the McKinney Team helped elect 3 out of their 4 picks: George Fuller for Mayor (won), Charlie Philips for At-Large (won), Dusttin Pearson for District 1 (lost), and Scott Elliot for District 3 (won).

2017 McKinney Team Candidate Direct and Indirect Contributions*:
$,2000 to Fuller in direct contributions & about $6,500 in-kind type support
$1,000 to Philips in direct contributions & about $10,000 in-kind type support
$1,000 to Elliot in direct money & about $9,000 in-kind type support
$1,000 to Pearson in direct money & about $5,000 in-kind type support

In 2019, the McKinney Team backed Rainey Rogers for District 2 (won), Frederick Frazier for At-Large (won), and Richard Franklin for District 4 (won).

2017 McKinney Team Candidate Direct and Indirect Contributions*: 
Rogers -- $500 in direct contributions & about $1,500 in-kind type support (he ran unopposed)
Franklin--$2,500 in direct contributions & about $1,000 in-kind type support
Frazier--$2,500 in direct contributions & about $1,500 in-kind type support

Here are the candidates the McKinney Team is supporting this year: George Fuller for Mayor, Charlie Philips for At-Large, Gere Feltus for District 3, and Jason Beller for District 1. Beller is also an employee of Independent Bank.

2021 McKinney Team Candidate Direct and Indirect Contributions* (indirect contributions will not be reported until at least the end of April):
$2,000 in direct contributions to Fuller (a small part of Fuller's roughly $58,000 in donations so far)
$2,000 in direct contributions to Philips
$2,000 in direct contributions to Feltus
$2,000 in direct contributions to Beller

*Note: If anything, I under-reported the in-kind type donations to each candidate. I did round down often. I did not include anything I suspected as duplicates. I also did not include anything that was vague as to what candidate was getting a specific donation (see example below).


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