Stench of corporate corruption looms over elections
BY Harvey Kronberg: News 8-Austin Commentary
May 3, 2005
There is a stench of corruption currently hanging over Texas elections. The smell comes from attack ads funded by secret corporate dollars.
Texas Association of Business bragged that its $1.9 million in secret corporate dollars helped Republicans capture the Texas House. The Law Enforcement Association of America used secret corporate dollars to help elect Attorney General Greg Abbott in his race against Kirk Watson. Just last year, Gov. Rick Perry's political consultant used secret corporate dollars through the mysterious Americans for Job Security to beat an East Texas Republican Senate candidate.
Meanwhile, the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court has done its part to protect secret corporate campaign dollars. For 15 months now, it has refused to consider whether the Texas Association of Business can be compelled to disclose how many corporations participated in the 2002 election and how many dollars each one kicked in. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit aren't even asking for the names of the corporations. Just how many and how much?
Reformers' hope of regulating secret corporate dollars in political campaigns is over.
And last week, an intimidated Texas House of Representatives did its part to continue the misuse of corporate dollars in Texas elections.
A bipartisan bill that would clean up legal ambiguities surrounding corporate dollars was sponsored by 93 House members. Despite that broad support, the bill had been locked up in committee all session where it essentially died last week. In a last ditch effort, a Republican lawmaker used House rules to try and move the bill from the committee and send it to the Calendars Committee to be scheduled for a floor debate.
The normally temperate Terry Keel, supposedly one of the bills sponsors, gave an impassioned speech accusing supporters of a Democratic inspired stunt to embarrass Republican speaker Tom Craddick. The motion to move the bill died with over 90 votes.
Whether or not it was his intention, what Keel really did was deliver an implicit threat to his colleagues. Vote for this motion, and embarrass Speaker Craddick for a bill that has no chance of final passage and you are all but assured that you, too, will be the target of attack ads funded by secret corporate dollars in your next election.
And so, the stench continues.