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Posts Tagged ‘campaign finance reform’

Revisiting George Fleming

Lisa Falkenberg catches up with an old friend. Trial lawyer George Fleming was calm and gracious when he took questions back in 2012, insisting that his bankrolling of a respected judge’s no-name opponent had nothing to do with his own displeasure with that particular jurist. “No, no,” Fleming assured my colleague Patti Kilday Hart. “The […]

Time to talk term limits again

The subject keeps coming up, though it never seems to get anywhere. As the inauguration of Houston’s elected leaders begins Thursday morning, supporters and spectators gathered at the Wortham Center downtown will see six new City Council members walk across the stage. Observers at the ceremony two years ago saw seven new members sworn in, […]

Bell lawsuit award against RGA tossed by appeals court

Some old history got raked up recently. An attorney for failed 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell is considering appealing a state appeals court’s decision to throw out a $2 million award to Bell in a lawsuit where Bell contended a national Republican organization violated state laws with $1 million in campaign donations to Republican […]

More leftover campaign cash

The Chron writes about a subject I’ve covered before. Former Rep. Shelley Sekula-Gibbs of Houston used leftover campaign funds to buy a life membership in the National Rifle Association. Former Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas paid a $6,000 Federal Election Commission fine. Former Rep. Tom DeLay of Sugar Land hired a media consultant. And former […]

Perry vetoes “dark money” bill

Not a surprise. Gov. Rick Perry has vetoed a divisive measure that would have forced some tax-exempt, politically active nonprofits to disclose their donors. That effectively kills the measure for this session; lawmakers stripped a similar amendment from an Ethics Commission reform bill on Friday. In his veto statement — the first of the session […]

Money in judicial races isn’t about partisanship

Dan Patrick isn’t the only one seeking to change how we select judges in Texas. Freshman state Rep. Justin Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, is an attorney who has been frustrated for years by this state’s hyper-political process for selecting judges (and the big money that flows into those races), and he was tempted to prescribe a […]

Straight ticket voting and judicial races elsewhere

You may be wondering, after reading my post about straight ticket voting and judicial races if the same thing is true in counties other than Harris. I got to wondering that myself, so I checked out the results from a dozen other counties for 2012. County ST Advantage Contested Races Closest Win # Affected ================================================================== […]

Support Senate Concurrent Resolution 2

Until something is done at the federal level about the awful Citizens United ruling, there’s not much states can do about it. One thing they can do is tell the feds that they want them to take action against this ill-considered expansion of corporate power. State Sen. Rodney Ellis has filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 2 […]

Can you believe it’s been ten years?

Ten years (and one week) ago, four defeated Democratic candidates for the State House filed a lawsuit against the Texas Association of Business, claiming that TAB funneled illegal corporate contributions into state legislative races in the 2002 election. As you can see from what I wrote at the time – yes, I was blogging that […]

If eliminating straight ticket voting is the solution, then what’s the problem?

With the opening day of bill-filing season comes the recurrence of a not-so-old chestnut that like many other bills is a solution in search of a problem. Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he wants to end straight-ticket voting for judges because the political winds often determine the fate of a judicial candidate instead of qualifications. […]

30 Day finance reports, Harris County candidates

Here’s a look at the 30 day campaign finance reports for Harris County candidates. All reports can be found by going to the Harris County Clerk campaign finance reports page. Candidate Office Raised Spent Loans Cash ========================================================== Garcia Sheriff 192,670 120,957 0 388,197 Guthrie Sheriff 158,700 48,633 171,000 98,152 Alessi Sheriff 1,019 2,007 700 1,719 […]

HISD takes another crack at ethics reform

Good luck. Houston school trustees on Thursday renewed serious talks about tightening their ethics rules after failing to agree on new policies late last year. The proposed changes, meant to restore public confidence that the Houston Independent School District is hiring the best contractors without undue influence, also could affect trustees’ political campaign coffers. Trustees […]

Politicians come and go, but campaign cash is forever

It seems that way, anyway. With the defeat of several incumbents in last week’s primaries, there’s a lot more unneeded campaign war chests lying around. Millions in unspent contributions have long lurked in former state lawmakers’ campaign bank accounts, often sitting idle until the cash eventually works its way back into the political system. There […]

Endorsement watch: Kirkland

Nearly all of the judicial primary action this year is on the Republican side, since nearly all of the incumbents running for re-election are Democrats; there are no contested Democratic primaries for the few Republican-held benches. The one contested Democratic judicial primary is a challenge to a sitting judge, Judge Steven Kirkland on the 215th […]

Again with judicial elections

Here we go again. Texas is one of seven states that holds partisan elections for judges, a practice that one watchdog group says can lead to conflicts of interest. “We have a judiciary at the highest level, the Texas Supreme Court, that gets 40 to 50 percent of its campaign money from the very people […]

Mighty pricey Main Street you’ve got there

My Irony-O-Meter goes to eleven. A Houston-based super PAC is targeting a dozen Democratic and Republican incumbents to reshape the political landscape in five states, including Texas where critics say an election law loophole is being used by a wealthy family to buy a seat in Congress. The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a conservative political […]

Two modest campaign finance reform suggestions

What to do about this? As indicted ex-constable Jack Abercia fights federal corruption and bribery charges brought against him last month, a lack of money for his legal defense isn’t one of his problems. The former Precinct 1 Harris County constable has salted away approximately $423,000 in campaign contributions, according to campaign finance reports. And […]

Credit where credit is due

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson calls on the Lege to protect legal aid funding. The budget crisis threatens to leave the state’s neediest without legal representation, Jefferson said, and even now “the courthouse door is closed to many who have lost their jobs, veterans and women who struggle with physical abuse.” As he […]

Will the Lege change the rules about corporate campaign contributions?

I think the answer to that question is probably “No”, but given the Citizens United ruling and the effect it had in the 2010 election, one cannot rule it out. Immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, the Texas Ethics Commission, acting within state law, issued rules for individual corporations or unions to disclose their […]

Meet the Mostyns

I have two things to say about this. Attorney Steve Mostyn said Tuesday he and his wife, Amber Anderson, are committed to putting a “substantial” amount of money that likely will exceed $3 million into ending hard-right Republican politics in Texas government. The pair already has put $1.3 million into committees that can help Democrat […]

Why these term limits?

David Mincberg has an op-ed about the city’s term limits law that makes some interesting points but doesn’t quite get at the issue of whether the system we actually have now is the best way to meet the goals of better and more diverse representation in Houston’s government. Back in 1991, Republican Clymer Wright led […]

The effect of the “Citizens United” decision on judicial elections

Republican attorney David Schenck makes the case in the Trib that the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which basically said that corporations could spend money as they saw fit in political campaigns, signals the imminent death of judicial elections in Texas. I have three things to say about this. 1. I […]

From the “It’s good to be the czar” files

Every few years we get an article like this one about how the sweetest gig in the state is being a Harris County Commissioner. Commissioners may have the safest jobs in Harris County politics. No incumbent has lost an election since 1974. “Commissioners, from a political perspective, are here for perpetuity,” said former county tax […]

Has the TEC grown some teeth?

Well, no. But they do seem to be levying bigger fines, so maybe their gums are a little harder. By every measure, the agency is issuing more — and larger — fines, the records show. “There’s been a shift to focus more on enforcement and compliance,” said the commission’s chairman, San Antonio lawyer Ross Fischer. […]

Term limits review on the horizon

Good. Without much fanfare, the Houston City Council agreed to the creation of a committee to study the often talked about issue of term limits. Currently, the Mayor, Controller, and City Council are elected for two years terms a maximum of three times. While the turnover does ensure fresh blood, critics have felt the short […]

Campaign finance bill passes the House

Donations and appointments

A lot of the people Rick Perry has appointed to various government offices have contributed to his campaign. Who knew? Gov. Rick Perry has accepted nearly $5 million in political campaign donations from people he appointed to state boards and commissions, including some in plum jobs that set policy for state universities, parks and roads, […]

Hey, remember when we were gonna reform county ethics?

How’s that been going? Efforts to clean up Harris County government appear to be on indefinite hold as any serious debate about ethics reform has been derailed for months by infighting and political gamesmanship. Commissioners Court has yet to act on a slate of suggestions prepared by an ethics reform task force that County Judge […]

Public financing for judicial races

In addition to the other ethics and campaign finance reform bills that I mentioned previously, one other bill set to come up in committee hearings on Wednesday the 15th is HB3146 by Rep. Rafael Anchia, which would allow for the creation of a public financing system for certain judicial races in Texas. It’s only at […]