Editorial: Campaigns need big coin in TexasTPJ report details financial support
The phrase "follow the money" applies to just about every attempt to get to the bottom of an issue, but this bit of advice is especially relevant in politics.
Proving that things really are bigger in Texas, a report released Thursday by Texans for Public Justice revealed that statewide and legislative candidates in the Lone Star State raised a combined $158 million in campaign funds in 2006.
While that is a good chunk of change, many political outsiders might have guessed a much higher figure.
Still, voters should know who and what organizations are footing the bill for their elected officials.
Here is the breakdown among the Panhandle-area legislative delegation, according to TPJ:
# State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo.
Total raised: $587,271.
Top Source City: Amarillo - $190,975.
Top Donors: Overall - Texas Association of Realtors PAC, $26,510. Local - Mr. and Mrs. Lane Seliger, Amarillo, $10,000. Other local contributors - Wales Madden, Amarillo, $8,000. Jerry Hodge, Amarillo, $5,000. Bill Ware, Amarillo, $5,000.
# State Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa.
Total raised: $235,722.
Top Source City: Austin - $81,600.
Top Donors: Overall - Wohlgemuth for Congress, $9,000. Local - Harold D. Courson, Perryton, $4,500. Other local contributors - Beef PAC, Amarillo, $2,500.
# State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo.
Total raised: $58,700.
Top Source City: Austin - $34,200.
Top Donors: Overall - Texas Association of Realtors PAC, $5,000. Local - "SW Comm. on Political Edu." or Southwestern Public Service Co., Amarillo, $1,000. No other local contributors listed among the top 28.
# State Rep. David Swinford, R-Dumas.
Total raised: $459,219.
Top Source City: Austin - $198,183.
Top Donors: Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, $20,000. Local - Steve W. and Marshallette Sterquell, Amarillo, $18,000. Other local contributors - E. Drew and Melinda Alexander, Amarillo, $5,000.
On Monday, Seliger, Chisum, Smithee and Swinford are expected to officially announce their plans for re-election as a group. Smithee was the only possible holdout, but he said Thursday he is "planning to do it" as far as throwing his hat in the ring for another term.
That means the campaign fund-raising machine will kick into gear - once again.
Unfortunately, this is what it takes to campaign in Texas, and voters need to know who is financially supporting candidates just as much as being informed on the issues.