This article is going to be a little different … the first section, below in italics, is just an intro/overview. Right after that, you will get the real skinny on how the Fair Campaign stuff actually works (or doesn’t work). Then, I’m going to walk through some comments & complaints I’ve received, evaluate them, and issue a couple of (good-natured) smackdowns! Note that there may be an issue of law or an issue with the Clerk or a misinterpretation on my part, so even in the smackdown there could be nuggets of wisdom or stupidity. Let’s begin…
Sharp-eyed readers may recall that in Part One I mentioned that the wording of Austin’s Fair Campaign Ordinance can be confusing:
The wording of the Fair Campaign Chapter can be confusing – I didn’t get it right away. Candidates who agree to abide by the restrictions may choose to not actually follow those restrictions, but still claim to follow them on their website and materials, if other candidates enter the race in their district and those candidates choose to not follow the Fair Campaign Charter. Candidates following that electoral disclaimer jiu-jitsu will remain eligible for the funds as well. That confusing logic actually makes sense if you think about it a while, but it clearly confuses everyone (including Randi Shade).
Rather than explaining that in full detail – like I should have – I instead tried to draw the story out into a “trilogy” of posts and attempted to add drama by going through the restrictions of the Fair Campaign Chapter and showing how the Pool campaign had met those requirements. …. In retrospect, doing that just made an already confusing topic even more confusing – I should have just explained things fully in one article.
In Part 3 (this article), I will attempt to eliminate most of the confusion & add some clarity. Also, as I mentioned above, there were a few comments and emails related to the previous two posts that I’d like to address. Since I will be quoting or screenshotting those comments & emails, this article will be pretty long, but it’s a quick read.
(note that I use “Ordinance” and “Chapter” interchangeably)
Understanding Fair Campaign Logic
Due to the way the Fair Campaign rules are structured, it encourages all candidates to sign a Fair Campaign contract – or, it would if candidates understood it better. Why? Because if any candidate in a race signs a Fair Campaign contract, and any other candidate does not, then the candidate signing a contract can get the benefits (ie potential funds), yet that same candidate does not have to follow any of the Fair Campaign restrictions — he can compete normally, just like the guy that didn’t sign a Fair Campaign contract.
That’s right, to repeat – he can get the money (if there is any), and he doesn’t have to follow the restrictions — as long as at least one other candidate in the race doesn’t sign a contract (or if some other candidate signs up for the Modified Reporting schedule, yet exceeds the $500 limit, but don’t worry about that for now). Additionally, the candidate who signed, yet no longer has to follow the restrictions, can still publicly claim that he is following the restrictions – he can print in his campaign literature that he is following the restrictions of Austin’s Fair Campaign Ordinance, yet he doesn’t actually have to follow the restrictions. Got it? Confused?
Thus, in Pool’s case, she never had to follow the Fair Campaign restrictions, because numerous other candidates did not sign a contract like she did. When they did not do so, Pool retained eligibility for the Fair Campaign funds, yet no longer had to follow the restrictions. It’s almost certain that she knew this and thus has known all along that she would get the funds – it’s just a matter of whether she has to split them with anyone else or not (I don’t think she will have to, but, read on, there is some dispute about that).
So, what the hell? When would a candidate ever have to actually follow the Fair Campaign restrictions? A candidate would only be required to follow the Fair Campaign restrictions (in order to remain eligible for the Fair Campaign funds) if every other candidate in the same race also signed a Fair Campaign contract (or signed up for the Modified Reporting schedule).
I know it seems counter-intuitive, but like I said in Part 1, it will eventually make sense if you think about it long enough. The point of the Fair Campaign Chapter is to help give campaigns with limited financing a boost (in a runoff) against theoretically well-financed candidates that did not agree to be bound by the Chapter’s various restrictions.
Rather than keep trying to explain this to you, it’s easier if you just read some of the past news coverage about Tovo or Clarke or Spelman or Morrison, all of whom got the funding, none of whom had to follow its restrictions. Here are some links: tovo or morrison or clarke or another tovo or yet another tovo or a spelman or another different tovo
If you’d like to see the part of the Ordinance that enables some of this crazy logic, here it is:
(A) A candidate who signs a campaign contract need not comply with the voluntary contribution and expenditure limits and may continue to use on campaign advertising the statement of compliance with the Austin Fair Campaign Chapter if:
(1) another candidate who signed a campaign contract has exceeded the voluntary contribution and expenditure limits at the time of filing a contribution and expenditure report;
(2) one or more candidates files for the same City office who by the filing deadline has not entered into a campaign contract or filed a notice of intent, under the Texas Election Code, to raise and spend less than $500; or
(3) independent expenditures in a race for the same council office by one person exceed $10,000 at any time before the election.
(B) A candidate who signed a campaign contract may, up to the end of the filing period for a place on the ballot, elect to opt out of the contract if another candidate has filed a designation of campaign treasurer for that office and has not within 30 days signed a campaign contract or a notice of intent, under the Texas Election Code, to raise and spend less than $500. If a candidate opts out of a contract, he or she may continue to use the disclaimer provided for in Section 2-2-14, but shall not be eligible to receive funds from the Austin Fair Campaign Finance Fund.
Loans / Contributions / “Personal Funds”
I thought it was impressive that Pool was following all the restrictions of the Fair Campaign Chapter, even though she did not need to in order to end up with the Fair Campaign funds (or a portion of the funds if it split with other candidates). However, it turns out that I was incorrect about her campaign following the Fair Campaign restrictions, due to Pool loaning herself thousands of dollars.
At the time, I thought loans to yourself would not count against the maximum amount of “personal funds” ($3750 – 5% of $75K) one is allowed to spend under the Fair Campaign restrictions (assuming you are following the restrictions).
Then, ATXSleuth posted a comment about loans on Part Deux. That caught my attention, because on Part 1, commenter David had also mentioned Pool’s loans to herself and seemed to indicate that the loans could be an issue. Monica Guzman had also commented on Part 1, and she indicated that loans weren’t mentioned in the campaign contract and she also commented on Part Deux to say that loans were not mentioned in 2-2-12 or 2-2-13 either. I had indicated in my artcles that I didn’t think loans would count as “personal funds”, but I wasn’t 100% certain.
After those several comments and my own uncertainty about loans as “personal funds”, I decided to get a more definitive answer. In reviewing the Fair Campaign Ordinance again, I noticed that while loans are not mentioned in the main part of the Ordinance, they are mentioned in the Definitions part – specifically, they are included in the definition of a “contribution”.
Thus, it looks like Pool’s self-loans probably do count as contributions from “personal funds” under the Fair Campaign Chapter (and under Texas election law as well). Therefore, the Pool campaign is probably not actually following all of the Fair Campaign restrictions after all (again, that doesn’t matter, she doesn’t need to follow them, I just thought that she was and thought she deserved credit for it). So, loans to self do appear to count as “personal funds” probably – still not absolutely sure on that, but much more sure than I was before.
Here is 2-2-2 (6), which is from the Definitions section of the Fair Campaign Chapter, in the Austin City Code:
CONTRIBUTION means a direct or indirect transfer of money, goods, services, or any other thing of value, including an agreement made or other obligation incurred, whether legally enforceable or not, to make a transfer. The term includes a loan or extension of credit, other than those expressly excluded by the Texas Election Code, and a guarantee of a loan or extension of credit. The term does not include an expenditure required to be reported under Section 35.006(b), Texas Government Code. In-kind labor, as defined in this chapter, is not a contribution.
Replies to Monica Guzman
Monica Guzman made several comments (and sent a couple of long emails) about my Pool/Fair Campaign articles. Previously, Monica had commented on a comment or two of mine over on the Chronicle website, on an unrelated matter where I was trying to help Andrew Bucknall out. Though the two topics are different, her comments/corrections are sort of cut from the same cloth, so I’m going to cover both topics below, for completeness. I’ll start with the Bucknall topic, since it’s short, and then continue with the Pool/Fair Campaign stuff below that … please forgive the slight divergence:
Comments from Monica Guzman on my cmt to Bucknall (Chronicle site)
In the comment section of this article on the Chronicle website, I had suggested to Andrew Bucknall that he be careful of making certain statements (snip of the top of comment):
Monica Guzman saw that and replied:
That confused me for a few minutes, but I eventually realized that Andrew Bucknall had obviously edited his post to correct the problem I had pointed out. I confirmed that with him:
So, I wasn’t crazy or mistaken, Andrew had indeed written “Vote for Bucknall”, which would be “express advocacy” without a disclaimer statement. Andrew had simply edited it to fix it after I pointed out that it could be a problem. A few days later Monica Guzman came along, read it, and because Andrew had edited it to fix the problem, she mistakenly (though understandably) misinterpreted it and replied to me to “correct” me. No harm done other than wasted time…
Comments & Email from Monica Guzman on Fair Campaign Articles
Guzman added a comment onto Part 1:
In her comment she is quoting part of the campaign contract (that candidates can sign). I’m not sure why though – she’s not pointing out an error as far as I can tell – seems to just be a factoid or two, just chipping in I guess.
Anyway, it does bring up an issue – the campaign contract says “matching funds”, which people might misconstrue to think that one only gets an equal match to what you have in the bank or what you have raised in contributions or something like that, which is not the case. Probably just poor wording in the contract I’m guessing.
Guzman’s comment on Part Deux:
Her comment is a reply to ATXSleuth, I think, though a lot of it appears to be about my article rather than his comment. Anyway, let’s examine her comment in detail:
The first paragraph of her comment is partly in response to ATXsleuth bringing up the ethics complaint that had been filed (against Monica .. it was dismissed btw). I wasn’t at the hearing, but at least in the findings document it doesn’t really say why they didn’t issue a fine or reprimand or anything. Could be any number of reasons. Had I been there, I certainly would not have issued any kind of fine or find fault of any type — in my opinion, you can’t be in violation of the Fair Campaign Chapter, because you were never in it. You were never in it IMHO, because you became a “candidate” the day you filed a Treasurer’s Appointment and you didn’t sign your campaign contract within 30 days of that point. Yes, you signed a contract, the Clerk took it, but IMHO it was never valid, therefore you can’t be found guilty of any violation arising from it. Its prima facie invalid. I take this up some more below – and perhaps the Clerk is allowing this to go through as valid, but I think that would be wrong (legally).
“Also learn to share correct information, information based on FACTS. Facts such as…” – sounds like good advice for Monica to follow, though I assume that was meant for me or maybe ATXSleuth (though it only makes sense for me I think). So, speaking for my damn self, I rarely put anything important in absolute terms, so I limit my error exposure surface … nevertheless, it does happen from time to time, particularly when writing big, complicated posts about fuzzy election law and data. In my initial Katrina Daniel article Ken Martin caught a line where I misattributed lobbyist contribution rule changes to voters voting rather than the council. Further down in this article Monica points out a typo I made. Seems like I should have made a couple of other significant mistakes, though I’m having a difficult time thinking of any at the moment.
“1 – The Fair Campaign Contract is VOLUNTARY.” – I’m not quite sure where this is coming from. I quoted the law directly, in Part 1: “VOLUNTARY CAMPAIGN CONTRACT”. Plus, I made several statements that made it clear that it wasn’t required. Perhaps that comment is directed at ATXsleuth? I don’t know, it doesn’t seem to be related to anything as far as I can tell.
“2-Candidates were LEGALLY able to sign said contract up to/including August 18. Staff at City Clerk’s office made them available for signature when candidates submitted ballot application. Info on signed Fair Campaign Contracts can be found at:
http://austintexas.gov/cityclerk/elections/ballotapplications2014.html“ – So that part and also the 2nd paragraph in Monica’s comment are about my contention (and ATXSleuth’s agreement) that most of the filed campaign contracts were not valid because they were filed more than 30 days after the candidate filed a treasurer’s appointment (filing treasurer’s appt will make you a “candidate”). I think the law is pretty clear on that, but Monica is disagreeing. She is saying that because the Clerk offers the form & accepted her signed form, that that is an indication that it must be legal. However, that is in direct conflict with the how the Clerk operates — they take invalid stuff all the time, they are mandated to take the stuff, not to evaluate it for legality. So, perhaps it is legal and valid, but it certainly doesn’t look that way based on the law. Perhaps the Clerk is even interpreting it as legal & valid. I would argue that would be a mistake if the Clerk was doing that. But, for now, let me suspend this discussion & pick it back up when it comes up again in her email (below).
She also gave the link to the ballot applications page on the city website, which shows you who has signed a campaign contract. I’m not quite sure why she put that paragraph in there, but there it is. Yep, that it is indeed the same page that I used about 3 months ago to quickly figure out which campaign contracts were filed too late to be valid (in my opinion).
Guzman’s email to me (1 of 2 emails):
This is a long email, so I’ll split it into sections and reply after each section. I’ll color the parts that are from her email purpley, so it’s clear:
In the “Leslie Pool campaign wins … Lottery” post, I found incorrect information, at least one is probably just a typo. Whether candidates headed into run-off or not, many met the mandated deadline:
§2-2-11(B) A candidate must personally sign the campaign contract the earlier of:
(1) 30 days after he or she becomes a candidate under the Texas Election Code; or
(2) the date the candidate files for a place on the ballot.
NOTE: While §2-2-11(B)(1) refers to both [TEC §251.001(1)] as a whole, not just [TEC §251.001(1)(A)]. Also, if you’ll note [TEC §251.001(1)(A)] doesn’t speak to actual candidacy, City doesn’t count it either – I had conversations with City/Election Clerk staff on issue. [TEC §251.001(1)(B)] is more relevant to defining a candidate => getting name on ballot. So long as the Fair Campaign Contract was signed no later than Aug 18, 2014, candidates met the mandated deadline.
Here she quotes 2-2-11 (B) only, whereas I quoted 2-2-11 in full (A and B) in Part 1 of my article. I don’t think that matters, but just pointing it out. Anyway, she says that 2-2-11 (B), which is the important stuff about when you have to sign your campaign contract, is referring not just to TEC 251.001(1)(A), which is the specific example from the Texas Election Code listing the filing of a Campaign Treasurer’s Appointment as one way you can become a “candidate”. She is trying to say that, really, what’s more important, is example (B) from that same clause, which is the filing of a ballot application. Of course, that’s just a bunch of hokum and is clearly not right as far as the Texas Election Code goes (and the city code specifically says that it uses 30 days after you become a candidate in the eyes of the Texas Election Code). So, if the Clerk told her that, then the Clerk is reading a lot more into the law than actually exists. I have now edited this section and included 251.001, in its entirety, below, to make this more understandable. Read on…
So, as I said in part 1, what defines a “candidate” in the eyes of Texas election law & in the eyes of Austin’s Fair Campaign Chapter, is 251.001 of the Title 15 Texas Election Code. In there, it says one of the ways you become a “candidate” is to file a Treasurer’s Appointment. There are various other examples that are also given — doing any one of them will make you a “candidate”. None are more powerful or valid than any of the others, that’s a ridiculous assertion. So, once you do one of these examples (or some other clearly affirmative action that shows you are running for an office), then, bam, you’re a “candidate”. Note that you remain a candidate as long as you have a valid Treasurer’s Appointment on file – you can’t just say “I’m not a candidate”. You have to file a “Final” CFR in order to quit being a candidate. Lots of people don’t understand that either and they remain as a “candidate” for years, missing filing deadlines, etc. So, for clarity, let me go ahead and put 251.001 in here, for your reference. Plus Monica makes another mistake when she’s talking about 251.001 (1)(A) and candidacy, so it will be helpful for that discussion as well:
§ 251.001. Definitions
In this title:
(1) “Candidate” means a person who knowingly and willingly takes affirmative action for the purpose of gaining nomination or election to public office or for the purpose of satisfying financial obligations incurred by the person in connection with the campaign for nomination or election. Examples of affirmative action include:
(A) the filing of a campaign treasurer appointment, except that the filing does not constitute candidacy or an announcement of candidacy for purposes of the automatic resignation provisions of Article XVI, Section 65, or Article XI, Section 11, of the Texas Constitution;
(B) the filing of an application for a place on the ballot;
(C) the filing of an application for nomination by convention;
(D) the filing of a declaration of intent to become an independent candidate or a declaration of write-in candidacy;
(E) the making of a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election, regardless of whether the specific office is mentioned in the announcement;
(F) before a public announcement of intent, the making of a statement of definite intent to run for public office and the soliciting of support by letter or other mode of communication;
(G) the soliciting or accepting of a campaign contribution or the making of a campaign expenditure; and
(H) the seeking of the nomination of an executive committee of a political party to fill a vacancy.
So, what the law is doing in A thru H is giving various examples of some of the ways you can become a “candidate” in the eyes of the law. You will note that the first example (A) is saying that filing a Campaign Treasurer’s Appointment makes you a “candidate”, though it will not cause you to automatically resign an existing office if you are current officeholder of a seat that is subject to the automatic resignation rules that Texas has for some offices. Monica has misinterpreted the meaning of (A) apparently. To be clear, (A) is absolutely saying filing a CTA makes you a “candidate” – it just won’t cause you to automatically resign if you were, say a district attorney and you filed a Treasurer’s Appointment in order to run for Governor in the upcoming election.
Anyway, as I have been saying, once you become a “candidate”, then you have 30 days to sign the campaign contract if you want to follow the Fair Campaign Chapter — at least, that’s the way I read it. If the Clerk is doing something else, I would be surprised, but it’s possible. Note that the 30-day rule is listed as a footnote in the Election Calendar / Packet for the important dates for a candidate. Plus, it’s written in slightly more plain language in the Candidate & Officeholder Brochure, which is included in the Candidate Packet provided by the Clerk. Below is a screenshot of some of that more plain language. You will note the 30 day requirement and also note that it says “..becomes a candidate under the Texas Election Code..”. (Again, that goes directly back to the 251.001 that I quoted above, which is showing you various example of how you become a candidate, according to the Texas Election Code) :
Continuing with more of Guzman’s email…
Best way to find out who signed a timely Fair Campaign Contract (See column “Candidate Contract Filed”) is online for the Office of the City Clerk Ballot Applications for November 2014 Elections:
When you pull up a candidate’s ballot application, if signed, the Fair Campaign Contract is included.
This is just more general FYI stuff I suppose .. really, I’m not sure not sure why it’s included. There’s that same ballot applications url again. Moving on…
I filed my Campaign Treasurer Appointment on May 7, signed my Fair Campaign Contract July 21, and filed my candidacy (ballot application) on Aug 18, 2014 (deadline to file candidacy). When candidates went in to file candidacy, City Clerk staff asked if interested in signing Fair Campaign Contract – bottom line, so long as we filed by Aug 18 we were within the mandated deadline.
Like I said, the fact that the Clerk offered a Fair Campaign contract form, or that the Clerk accepted a filled out version of the form, to me does not indicate that it is therefore valid. By my reading of the law and those dates, Monica’s campaign contract (and a whole bunch of other candidates’ contracts) essentially don’t exist because they were not filed within 30 days of becoming a “candidate”. Perhaps the Clerk is ignoring that provision, perhaps I’m reading it wrong – after all, Monica says that she actually spoke to the Clerk about this specific topic. So, if the Clerk is doing it, then so be it, but I don’t see how it can stand up in court, if challenged. [ ed: I have had additional confirmation that the clerk’s office may be telling people this in person. I haven’t been able to find a document saying this – actually most of them reprint 2-2-11 (B) (1). This appears to be a problem – I have emailed the mayor, council, and clerk about it. I don’t know that they will change to my interpretation – they may very well not. Either way, Monica deserves credit for remembering exactly what the Clerk told her and also for sending it all to me to correct me … while I’m still right, and this other interpretation is wrong, I would probably not have pursued this as vigorously if not for Monica challenging me .. so kudos to her, and you keep on challenging me anytime you’d like, Monica 🙂 ]
Reading, much less interpreting, policy verbiage, ordinances, statutes/regulations is tedious, mind-numbing, and can be a real chore.
For what it’s worth, I was a policy analyst for the State, wrote/revised my share of state policies requiring extensive research on state statutes/federal regulations, so I’m quite accustomed to reading/interpreting. However, since I’m not an attorney, where campaign laws were concerned I followed-up with TEC attorneys.
Well, I’ve read Title 15 numerous times and the election-related parts of the city Charter and city code (as well as some other sections) a bunch too. However, I’ve only called and talked to an Ethics commission attorney once with election questions. And I’ve only talked to the Austin Ethics Review associated city attorneys a couple of times. I’m not sure that info makes either of us more likely to be right or wrong, but I have yet to see (or at least understand) an alternate explanation for what the 30-day provision is for if not for what it says. I don’t see how you can read that & not think that your campaign contract is invalid (as are many I think). Again, I will concede that the Clerk may running things and ignoring the 30-day provision – that seem to be what they told you – I just don’t see how that’s legal though (however, it’s easy to read something the wrong way, so I’m wiling to be convinced otherwise if you have a plausible explanation).
PS1: There is no section/subsection “§255.001(1)(A)” within the Texas Election Code.
PS2: [TEC 255.001(a)(1)] is about disclosure on political advertising. TEC Ch 255 is about “REGULATING POLITICAL ADVERTISING AND CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATIONS”.
PS3: I believe intended citation is [TEC 251.001]; specifically [TEC 251.001(1)(A), 251.001(1)(B)]
Aha! Finally a mistake that I made that I agree actually exists. I did indeed typo 251.001 to 255.001 in Part 1 of my article. Thank you for passing that along (very thoroughly). It is fixed.
PS4: As demonstrated by [TEC 251.001(1)] there are multiple ways a person can become a candidate.
“According to … one way a person can become a ‘candidate’ ”
Not sure what to make of this one. It’s kind of meta. In my article I say “one way a person can become a ‘candidate'” and I provide a link to Title 15. You give me my same text back, with a bit more specific link, and put a line at the top saying saying “…are multiple ways a person can become a candidate.”, which is, no doubt, the obvious conclusion a rational person would reach based on the predicate “one way a person can become a ‘candidate'”. It’s sort of oddly circular and very me, as if my own words have come right back at me. I like it as its own stand-alone studio art piece. Thanks.
Oh, and there is also:
“The wording of the Fair Campaign Chapter can be confusing – I didn’t get it right away. Candidates who agree to abide by the restrictions may choose to not actually follow those restrictions, but still claim to follow them on their website and materials, if other candidates enter the race in their district and those candidates choose to not follow the Fair Campaign Charter.”
You are correct, it can be confusing. BUT, once a candidate signs the Fair Campaign Contract s/he is bound by said contract, the political disclosure statement on campaign materials must state compliance accordingly (see examples below). If/when a candidate violates the contract s/he voids eligibility for run-off funding from the City. It’s not a pick n choose type of activity, there are plenty of city/state laws on the issue.
I’m going to assume the bottom paragraph there is referring to the one above it and not its own stand-alone piece. If it is its own stand-alone piece, then you’re basically just telling me that if you sign a contract you’re supposed to follow it, which would be kind of silly, so I have to assume you’re saying that in response to my statements in the paragraph above where I said “..Candidates who agree to abide by the restrictions may choose to not actually follow those restrictions, but still claim to follow them on their website…”. Now, if you’ve read the top section of this article (the one you are reading right now) and you clicked on the links to some of the older Fair Campaign articles that I provided, then you know that I am 100% correct in my description of the Fair Campaign logic – that is indeed exactly how it works, so she’s wrong on this one too.
When I submitted my CTA, my websites had this political statement:
Pol Adv pd for by Monica Guzmán for Austin City Council, District 4. This campaign has not agreed to comply with the contribution and expenditure limits of the Austin Fair Campaign Chapter. Monica Guzmán, Treasurer. Email:ElectMonica.District4@gmail.com Monica Guzmán for Austin City Council, District 4 PO Box 143204 Austin TX 78714.
Upon signing contract, I had to change websites and campaign materials to read:
Pol Adv pd for by Monica Guzmán for Austin City Council, District 4. This campaign has agreed to comply with the contribution and expenditure limits of the Austin Fair Campaign Chapter. Monica Guzmán, Treasurer. Email:ElectMonica.District4@gmail.com Monica Guzmán for Austin City Council, District 4 PO Box 143204 Austin TX 78714.
Fairly ridiculous that she actually bothered to type up these 2 examples. As if I could have possibly researched and written everything that I have published and yet somehow not been aware of this — particularly in light of the fact that that is the same political advertising disclaimer that I had told Andrew Bucknall he would need to place on his “express advocacy” statements over on that Chronicle article I referenced earlier. And, if you recall, that was where Monica Guzman came along and tried to correct me and was, yet again, wrong wrong wrong.
Finally, I need to read through both this and follow-up. I read as I have time.
Regardless which candidate(s) you supported, I thank you for your blog, just make sure you have your research nailed down!
Ha! That’s priceless! Right back at ya sister.
Monica Guzman email (2 of 2 emails):
Monica sent another email to me about the Excel file that I created which contains contribution data for most of the mayoral and council candidates for the last 3 reporting periods in this current race. She says:
Well I’m pleased to see that she tried to use the data – that’s cool. So, this looks like a typical Windows-ish type problem to me – the kind that you see randomly on most Windows systems. Could be her version of Excel, could be other programs running, hardware, who knows. A number of people are using the .xlsx spreadsheet with no issues reported so far, except hers, so I would guess the problem is probably not with the .xlsx itself. The .xlsx file itself is only about a meg and half, so file size is definitely not an issue.
However, on the off chance it is some sort of interaction between her Excel, or that version of Excel, and the .xlsx I produced, I went ahead and exported another version of it, but this one is in the old .xls format. I don’t think it will make any difference, but if anyone else has a problem like Monica’s, then give it a shot I guess. Being an .xls, it’s about double the size of the .xlsx – about 3 MB – still very tiny for a spreadsheet. The file is at: