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Abbott Campaign Files Ethics Complaint Over Wendy Davis Book Tour

Ryan E. Poppe

Wendy Davis' Republican gubernatorial opponent Greg Abbott has gone from asking for a general inquiry regarding Davis' book sales and promotional activity to launching a formal complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission.

The Abbott campaign filed the formal complaint during the first stop of Davis’ book signing tour in Austin.

In a statement, the Abbott campaign’s Matt Hirsch writes:

"Sen. Davis' book promotion has gone from ethically questionable to outright unlawful,"  

Outside the Davis event, about a dozen Abbott supporters lined the sidewalks rallying for a full investigation.

The crowd chanted: “We want ethics! We want ethics! We want ethics!"

In their complaint filed with the commission, the campaign alleges Davis used campaign funds to promote her book, which she, as a candidate, benefits from financially.

“You can tell this is a politically motivated, frivolous complaint because they filed this today without waiting for the inquiry they filed on Monday,” said the Davis campaign’s Rebecca Acuña.

Attorney Fred Lewis, who specializes in ethics and constitutional law, said a formal complaint is completely different than an inquiry about state campaign finance laws.

“They have an investigation, they have an investigatory process," Lewis said. "It’s not simply an legal issue for an advisory panel, it’s a legal and factual issue.” 

Lewis said neither the inquiry nor the formal complaint is one that will be settled before the November election. He said the laws on what is political activity and what isn’t remain vague and unclear. 

Lewis said clearing up the law is an issue he's worked on personally for the past four legislative sessions with little to no avail.