Newly Uncovered Memo Shows TAB Sought Secret Insurance Funds
|For Immediate Release:|
For More Information Contact:
|February 18, 2003|
Craig McDonald, 512-472-9770
Austin, TX: A newly uncovered memo reveals that Texas Association of Business (TAB) president, Bill Hammond, solicited executives in the insurance industry to bankroll his group’s controversial $2 million advertising blitz in 24 hotly contested legislative races.
“This memo is the smoking gun that confirms the worst fears of consumers: the insurance industry was secretly tapped to underwrite the TAB’s illicit political spending spree,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. “The TAB and the insurance industry—which is under the gun for price gouging Texas consumers—joined forces to secretly channel corporate money to elect legislators who will presumably be beholden to the industry’s anti-consumer agenda.”
The TAB ad blitz, which used corporate contributions from yet undisclosed sources, has been criticized as an illegal expenditure under Texas law and is under investigation by the Travis Country District Attorney. Eighteen of the TAB supported candidates in the 24 targeted districts were helped by the illicit expenditures and are now serving in the legislature. The existence of the TAB solicitation memo to the insurance industry was first disclosed in Sunday’s edition of the Austin American Statesman.
“It is now very clear that insurance company money was tapped by TAB to influence state elections. That is absolutely illegal under Texas law. You can’t use corporate money in Texas political campaigns," said McDonald.
The memo, distributed by Hammond at an insurance industry meeting last August reads, in part, “I hope you will consider asking your colleagues in the insurance industry to write a check for $50,000 or $100,000 to the TAB voter education project. Contributions for this purpose are not reportable.”
“Has the TAB forsaken small businesses and gone off to do the bidding of the same insurance giants who are making it impossible for working Texans to pay their bills? It’s time the TAB came clean and disclosed the sources of its illicit spending spree,” added McDonald.
The TAB has admitted spending $2 million in corporate funds on last-minute political ads that targeted 24 key legislative races. This blitz included television ads and 4 million pieces of political mail. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle has convened a grand jury investigation of TAB's corporate electioneering, which also is being challenged in state court by candidates whom TAB worked to defeat.