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Posts Tagged ‘campaign finance reform’

On judicial elections and campaign finance

Ross Ramsey raises an interesting point. It might seem silly to elect people who promise they won’t represent you, their political party or their donors, but that’s what we expect judges to do. They’re supposed to apply the law, and if they do any of those other things, they’re probably out of line. Florida elects […]

Abbott vetos Huffman loophole bill

Good. Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed legislation that would have allowed married elected officials to hide their personal financial business from the prying eyes of Texas voters, according to the author of the legislation. The so-called spousal loophole provision had been tacked as amendments to two bills that were otherwise aimed at increasing disclosure and […]

Ethics complaint filed against Sen. Huffman

From the Lone Star Project: The Lone Star Project has learned that a complaint was filed Wednesday with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) alleging that Republican State Senator Joan Huffman (SD17 – Houston) is in violation of section § 572.023 of the Texas Government Code for failure to disclose a financial interest in 30 business […]

Further lessons in throwing money at dishonest people

It’s so sad seeing such savvy businessmen being so badly fleeced, isn’t it? A second major donor to the conservative group that secretly recorded elected officials and lobbyists says he stopped providing financial support after growing dissatisfied with how his money was being used. Anthony Holm, a staple in Texas conservative circles and a consultant […]

Ethics reform dies its expected death

The only surprise is that it took this long. With no collective will to expose dark money contributions in Texas, a major ethics overhaul was snuffed out in the waning hours of the 2015 legislative session. “It’s dead,” Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, said Saturday afternoon. “When the Senate chose not to include campaign disclosure reform […]

A brief lesson in the value of disclosure and transparency

I confess, I have not been following the “wingnut activists videoing everyone at the Capitol” clown show very closely, but the absurdity of it all has been kicked up to the point where I couldn’t ignore it any more. The activist group employing people who have been secretly recording lawmakers have talked about having a […]

The odds never favor ethics reforms

Better to keep your hopes down and not suffer too much disappointment. Gov. Greg Abbott pledged on the campaign trail to lead the charge to improve the state’s ethics laws, and now lawmakers and advocates pushing for reform are looking to the newly elected governor to help breathe life into proposals at the Legislature. Lawmakers […]

Term limits change approved by Council committee

One step closer to the ballot. Most council members are in favor of changing term limits from three two-year terms to two four-year terms. They will refer their recommendation to the mayor, who will then put it up for a vote during a regular council meeting. “If in fact the full council supports it, it […]

Expect “dark money” to stay dark

Nice recommendations, but they’re not going anywhere. Labeling so-called dark money spending a corrupting force in the democratic process, the House Committee on State Affairs issued a set of recommendations after Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, directed the panel a year ago to dive into the topic during the interim. Strauss and his lieutenants have […]

Bell ordered to pay $300K to RGA

Ouch. Unsuccessful 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell, once awarded $2 million in his lawsuit against the Republican Governors Association, has instead been ordered to pay the organization $300,000 in legal fees after losing on appeal. The case dates to the closing days of the 2006 campaign, when the national association wrote two $500,000 checks […]

Mayoral fundraising 2015

Yeah, I know, another post about the 2015 election. I sure am doing a lousy job of not thinking about that just yet, but this raises an interesting point. Likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell is asking the city of Houston to reconsider its interpretation of an ordinance that would give Sylvester Turner a major fundraising […]

Appeals court rules against KSP

From last week, from the inbox via the Texas Democratic Party: (Yesterday), the Texas Democratic Party prevailed in King Street Patriots v. Texas Democratic Party, when the Texas Court of Appeals for the Third District confirmed a lower court decision to uphold provisions of Texas campaign finance law. [Campaign Legal Center, 10/8/2014] The Texas Democratic […]

Chartering

There will be more than just the Mayor’s race going on in 2015. Houston is guaranteed a frantic 2015 political season with an open mayor’s race on the ballot, but it could get busier still with growing talk of placing the city charter before voters for possible changes to term limits, the city revenue cap […]

Abbott claims Davis’ book tour constitutes an illegal campaign contribution

I guess he has to do something to distract from what’s actually in Sen. Davis’ book. Republican gubernatorial nominee Greg Abbott asked the Texas Ethics Commission on Monday to rule whether opponent Wendy Davis’ book deal and tour crosses the line on illegal corporate campaign contribution because it is tied to her ongoing campaign. Davis’ […]

More about TPJ

The Chron profiles Texans for Public Justice, the group that filed the complaint that led to Rick Perry’s indictments. [Craig] McDonald’s Texans for Public Justice, which operates out of a small office west of the University of Texas-Austin campus and currently has less than $1,000 in the bank, is known as the state’s preeminent group […]

Shine a light on dark money

I totally favor this. Secret campaign donors in Texas may soon be forced out of the shadows. The Texas Ethics Commission, already fighting a conservative group in court over whether it can regulate dark money disclosure, appears poised to approve a proposal aimed at requiring some politically active nonprofits to start revealing their anonymous donors. […]

Who watches the fox while he guards the henhouse?

The Railroad Commission needs an ethics upgrade. The race for Texas railroad commissioner has revived — at least in the short term — debate around a series of thwarted legislative proposals to overhaul the state’s curiously named oil and gas agency. Calling the Railroad Commission too heavily influenced by the industry it regulates, Steve Brown, […]

Another entry for the judicial election files

Get Wallace Jefferson on the phone for me, will ya? Three justices on the Tennessee Supreme Court are facing an election-year attack, not for any particular decision they have authored or even for any unpopular opinion they have espoused. No, in an ugly campaign in Tennessee that appears to be getting ever uglier, Senate Speaker […]

FEC approves Bitcoin for campaign contributions

It’s the right call. The Federal Election Commission on Thursday voted to allow political committees to accept Bitcoin donations and outlined the ways that the virtual currency can be used by federally regulated campaigns. Responding to a request from a political action committee, the commissioners unanimously approved an advisory opinion that defined Bitcoins, which allows […]

The money is the problem

A story of interest from North Carolina. The ad first appeared on television the Friday before last, a black-and-white spot charging that Justice Robin Hudson coddled child molesters and “sided with the predators” in a North Carolina Supreme Court dissent. It has run constantly since. As notable as the ad’s content and frequency, though, is […]

Wallace Jefferson is still going on about judicial elections

In an interview in The Atlantic, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson rides his favorite hobbyhorse of partisan judicial elections. I’ve been talking about this for a long time. And I am not the first one. Republican or Democrat Chief Justices for the last 30 or 40 years have been calling on the legislature […]

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 […]