O'Neill's donation denial ignored more Republican money

During his appearance on FOX News Channel on August 17, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth co-founder John E. O'Neill neglected to mention another contribution to a Republican -- this time to a candidate for state office. As Media Matters for America first noted on August 12, O'Neill, co-author of Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, claimed that $7,000 of the nearly $15,000 in contributions that Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show he made to federal Republican candidates were actually made by his law partner.

O'Neill has repeatedly declared himself nonpartisan. Yet during an August 17 appearance on FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, he claimed that the “actual records” show that he has contributed “more money to Democratic candidates than to Republican candidates,” including to Democratic Houston mayoral candidate Bill White. O'Neill said that he had “given in excess of $25,000 to Democrats over the same 15-year period. About three times as much [as he admitted having given to Republicans].”

MMFA's review of White's campaign finance filings (filed with the City of Houston) confirmed (pdf) that, as O'Neill claimed, “John O'Neill” contributed $5,000 to White in 2003; but MMFA's review of the Texas Ethics Commission's (TEC) searchable database of campaign finance reports also found record of a Republican contribution beyond those previously noted by MMFA and beyond those previously acknowledged by O'Neill.

Records (pdf) show that “John E. O'Neil” [sic] of Houston contributed $5,000 to the campaign of Republican “Judge Elizabeth Ray for Texas Supreme Court.” While the filing spells O'Neill's last name incorrectly, it lists his employer as the law firm “Clements, O'Neil, Pierce, Nickens & Wilson”; O'Neill is currently a partner in the Houston-based Clements, O'Neill, Pierce, Wilson & Fulkerson, L.L.P.

These are the state and local contributions MMFA was able to document. Records on local contributions in Texas are available through local filing authorities but must be searched by candidate rather than by contributor. The TEC database, which keeps records of all contributions to candidates for statewide office, dates back only to July 2000. Thus far, through federal, state, and local records, MMFA has documented $19,650 in contributions O'Neill has made to Republicans and $5,000 to a Democrat.

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