Karla Cisneros Takes Money from I-45 Expansion Firm

I’ve gone to a number of Houston City Council District H candidate forums.

One constant is that people are not at all happy about the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

So, imagine my surprise when, looking at Council Member Karla Cisneros’ most recent campaign finance report, I saw a contribution of $1,500 made at the end of July, 2019 by HNTB Holdings LTD PAC of Kansas City. 

HNTB Holdings LTD, the company affiliated with the PAC, are the folks who designed the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

The  Make I-45 Better Coalition is one of several groups formed to oppose the plan. They say that the plan will displace, largely in District H:

  • 168 single family homes,
  • 1,067 multi-family homes, which include:
    • 368 units of low-income housing, and
    • 60 homeless veterans’ units.

And yet, CM Cisneros was glad to take their money.

Who else is giving her money?

I looked at all of her contributions from 2018 and 2019 through the most recent filing. During those 21 months, she raised $138,101.

About that campaign cash:

  • She received $54,901, or 40%, from 34 political action committees (PACs).
  • $64,100 came from 122 individuals (46%).
  • The remaining 14% came from law firms and partnerships (not from corporations, which would be illegal).

When you dive into the details about the $64,100 from individual donors, you see that:

  • $55,575 (or 87%) came from individuals who listed a zip code which is outside the District H boundaries.
  • Roughly 50% of the individuals for whom a professional affiliation is either listed or easily found online are involved in a small number of fields with companies that work or have worked with the city: real estate development, engineering, construction, lobbying, or a job or position that places them in close proximity to city government, like serving on a city board or as a political appointee.

Who are the PACs and partnerships?

  • Ten are engineering, construction, & real estate developers/associations.
  • Nine are public employee unions.
  • Eight are law firms with lobbying and public finance practices.
  • The rest, with one in each category:
    • An airline headquartered in Chicago.
    • An airport concessions joint venture between some Houstonians and a company based in Milan, Italy.
    • A local motel & hotel owners association.
    • A nationwide telecom company.
    • A nationwide health insurance company.
    • A nationwide funeral service company based in Houston.
    • A Houston-based natural gas and electric utility.

I’ll let my District H neighbors decide how comfortable they are with PACs and people from outside the district being their council member’s largest supporters.

But it is one of the many reasons I’m voting for Isabel Longoria for Houston City Council District H.

You can go look at any candidate’s campaign finance reports on the city’s website.


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