Comptroller raises $5.7 millionBY Peggy Fikac, San Antonio Express-News
January 20, 2005
AUSTIN — State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn on Tuesday detailed $2.25 million in campaign contributions from the past six months, including $197,428 in donations related to a tax consulting firm.
Strayhorn — the state tax overseer who is mulling a challenge to Gov. Rick Perry — earlier noted the last reporting period's contributions helped give her $5.7 million in cash on hand.
That compared to $7.9 million in the bank for Perry, who released his report last week. Strayhorn's detailed report wasn't available until Tuesday, the deadline for it to be filed with the state.
Her report shows $197,428 in contributions from the Ryan & Co. Texas Political Action Committee and individuals who are principals in or otherwise associated with the firm. The company's Web site touts its work on tax changes and settling tax cases.
"At Ryan & Co. we don't just react to Texas tax changes. We engineer them," it says, adding later, "It's a fact that we settle more Texas tax cases than any other firm."
Some pushing for a change in campaign finance law say such donations to candidates, while legal, show the need for limits.
Craig McDonald of Texans for Public Justice, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that monitors money in Texas politics, said, "There's an appearance of conflicts in the campaign finance system itself."
Strayhorn spokesman Mark Sanders said, "Texas belongs to all Texans. The comptroller is honored and humbled to have the support of hard-working Texans across this state. Anyone who supports the comptroller gets one thing: honest good government."
Suzy Woodford of Common Cause said, "I think people who contribute $195,000 get a little more good government than those who are able to contribute only $25."
A Ryan & Co. spokesman didn't return a call for comment. The company's principals include Democratic former state Comptroller John Sharp, who wasn't a donor on the report. Sharp is considered a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2006.
Among other large donors to Strayhorn were lawyers Walter Umphrey of Beaumont, John Williams of Houston and her new campaign treasurer, International Muffler Co. President Ken Banks of Schulenburg, at $50,000 each.
The biggest San Antonio contributor was Valero Energy Corp. PAC at $25,000.
U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison also is considering a run against Perry but has different filing deadlines as a federal official.
Hutchison's last 2004 report showed her with more than $6.6 million on hand, and her spokesman said she hasn't been actively fund raising.