Councilman Zimmerman challenges city’s campaign fundraising rules

Don Zimmerman (KXAN)
Don Zimmerman (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Council Member Don Zimmerman testified in federal court on Monday in his lawsuit against the city of Austin. He is challenging the city’s limitations on campaign contributions because he says the contributions fall under the first amendment.

The city of Austin restricts individual donors from contributing more than $350 to a candidate and also caps total contributions a candidate can receive from supporters living outside the city limits at $36,000. Both of those restrictions are being challenged by Zimmerman as well as the “blackout” period, which only allows fundraising within six months of a candidate’s election day.

Compared to other cities in Texas, Austin’s limits are strict. Whereas Austin’s limit for contributions is $350, San Antonio’s is set at $500, Dallas at $1,000 and $5,000 in Houston.

In addition, San Antonio is the only other Texas city to have a blackout period on fundraising, but it is only for the four days before an election.

Judge Lee Yeakel is hearing the case in federal court and is expected to make a ruling in the coming weeks. Testimony in the case was expected to wrap up on Tuesday afternoon.

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