Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Council Member Casar donated an equivalent amount of money he received from the Austin Police Association Political Action Committee to the Austin Justice Coalition
AUSTIN (KXAN) — After a number of local officials pledged not to receive funding from police groups, the Austin Police Association Political Action Committee asked them to return its donations. Instead, Austin City Council Member Greg Casar and former Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said Friday that they will be donating equivalent amounts to the Austin Justice Coalition.
Casar, along with the mayor and all other city council members, recently signed a “No Cash from Cops” pact saying he would no longer accept political donations from police organizations.
In a tweet Friday, Casar shared a photo of the request to return $1,200 in funding from the APA PAC.
“Previously you decided it was okay to seek out and accept financial campaign support from the honorable women and men who represent law enforcement, I am respectfully requesting you return any campaign donations or funds,” the letter from the APA PAC said.
Casar tweeted that he would donate $1,200 to AJC.
Eckhardt, who is now running for Texas senate, said she had received a similar letter asking she return the donation of $1,000 from 2015. She said she reinvested the funds in the Austin Justice Coalition and GoFundMe accounts for Justin Howell and Brad Levi Ayala, both of whom were shot by less-lethal rounds during recent Austin protests.
“Brad is a nephew of a friend,” Eckhardt wrote in a letter responding to the return donation request. “And my own daughter, who was at the same protest, could have been similarly injured. I hope we will make the changes together that will heal and build trust in our community.”
The letter from the APA PAC, which has been circulating on social media, reads in part:
“Our members reflect a wide spectrum of society based on diversity of age, sex race/color, sexual orientation, national origin, and socio-economic status. Your decision to segregate them and their families into a distinct category based on the job they hired on to do, and even work for the same governmental entity and community, is appalling.”
The letter goes on to ask whether Casar will pledge not to accept campaign donations related to all industries deemed to be influencers in perpetuating systemic racism an inequality, citing a task force Austin Mayor Steve Adler put together in 2016 to tackle it through a number of areas such as education, real estate, health and banking.
At 9 p.m. on the CW and 10 p.m. on KXAN, Investigator Jody Barr is looking into other political donations Austin City Council members have accepted from police organizations in the past.