HOUSTON — The alleged misuse of campaign funds by three-term Houston City Council member Michael Kubosh falls under the purview of the state, even though the city has its own ethics commission, according to City of Houston Attorney Arturo Michel.
“The Texas Ethics Commission has jurisdiction over campaign finance regulations to which City officials are subject,” Michel said. “These are codified in state law.”
KHOU 11 Investigates reviewed nearly 1,700 pages of campaign finance reports and cross-referenced those with social media posts made by Michael Kubosh and his family members. The analysis revealed thousands of dollars of campaign expenses that appear for personal use. They include food and beverage tabs at pricey restaurants, as well as rental car charges and airport parking fees during the same timeframe as Kubosh family vacations.
“It’s a huge problem,” said Anthony Gutierrez, Executive Director of the non-profit watchdog Common Cause Texas. “Mr. Kubosh is just using money on himself and his family, and that is very clearly prohibited by law."
After KHOU questioned Kubosh about the questionable expenses, his brother and campaign treasurer Randall Kubosh filed corrections for all of the items KHOU flagged. The revisions changed the categorization of expenses to “loan repayments/reimbursements” and appear to now claim the birthday meals and vacation expenses were paid for with personal money Michael Kubosh loaned to his own campaign.
In an affidavit, Randall Kubosh wrote he “may have inadvertently miscategorized several items” listed on his brother’s campaign finance reports and called it “an accidental oversight on my part.”
City of Houston Attorney Michel said the city has historically not addressed such matters, but instead refers complaints to the Texas Ethics Commission or the District Attorney.
Jim Tinley, General Counsel for the Texas Ethics Commission, said his agency has a policy of not confirming or commenting on any pending cases.
Michael Kubosh was a candidate for Houston City Controller, the city’s top financial watchdog, until he withdrew from the race Monday, for health reasons.
“I am having serious health issues, it is not made up,” Kubosh said in an email Tuesday afternoon.
Kubosh said he would honor a request for an on-camera interview as soon as his health allows.
“I will visit with you as soon as I regain my strength and am able to go back to work,” he said in an e-mail.