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If it walks like a PAC and talks like a PAC…

…the odds are pretty good that it’s a PAC.

A Travis County district court judge ruled this week that a Houston-based tea party group is not a nonprofit corporation as it claims, but an unregistered political action committee that illegally aided the Republican Party through its poll-watching efforts during the 2010 elections.

The summary judgment by Judge John Dietz upheld several Texas campaign finance laws that had been challenged on constitutional grounds by King Street Patriots, a tea party organization known for its “True the Vote” effort to uncover voter fraud.

The ruling grew out of a 2010 lawsuit filed by the Texas Democratic Party against the King Street Patriots. The Democrats charged that the organization made unlawful political contributions to the Texas Republican Party and various Republican candidates by training poll watchers in cooperation with the party and its candidates and by holding candidate forums only for GOP candidates.

See here, here, here, here, and here for more on this charming collection of chuckleheads and the litigation they’ve spawned. You can see a copy of the judgment here and here; it’s short and fairly readable, so do give it a look. Not only were all of the KSP’s motions denied, it’s clear that Judge Dietz didn’t think much of their arguments. The crux of all this is as follows:

King Street Patriots was founded in December 2009 by Catherine Englebrecht, of Richmond. Its stated purpose is “to provide education and awareness with the general public on important civic and patriotic duties.”

During the 2010 elections, King Street Patriots reviewed public information regarding voter registration in Harris County, reported findings to the county registrar and trained several hundred poll watchers to serve during the general election. It has made voter fraud its signature issue.

As a nonprofit, King Street Patriots does not have to list its funders, but cannot participate in partisan activity. To support a party or a candidate, a nonprofit must create a political action committee. PACs can be involved in partisan politics, but must list their donors.

You cannot operate in a partisan manner and not disclose your donors. Pretty simple concept, at least if it’s your intent to operate on the up and up. Now that the constitutional questions have been settled, the case moves on to the TDP’s claims that the KSP violated state election law and are liable for damages. Based on this, it’s looking good for the TDP. PDiddie has more.

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2 Comments

  1. matx says:

    True the Vote is scheduled to have their national convention at the Brookhollow Sheraton at the end of April–including such “distinguished” guests as James O’Keefe, Anita Moncreif and Hans Von Spakovsky. They also claim non-profit status.

  2. Mainstream says:

    I have not kept up with this litigation, but from my observations True the Vote is actually non-partisan. They sent pollwatchers into my mostly white, Republican-majority precinct last election cycle.

    If Jew Don Boney had had a pollwatcher in a particular precinct of State House 147 when he competed with Garnet Coleman in the special election back in 1990, he would be State Rep. Jew Don Boney today. I once was a pollwatcher in Precinct 55, which votes in a church near Cadillac Bar and Grill. I saw only minor violations. But some months later, I read in the Chronicle that the Democrat precinct judge there had been convicted of stuffing the ballot box in her contest for re-election as precinct chair.

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