Campaign finance reports are out, and Political Action Committees have pumped significant cash into campaigns this year, but whose and how much?
A Political Action Committee (PAC) is a group organized for the purpose of raising and contributing money to candidates’ campaigns, often to advance the interests of the group. Reform Austin inspected the state’s top-contributing PACs to uncover which politicians are being bankrolled by what interests.
#1 Texans for Lawsuit Reform: $112,500
The largest influx of PAC cash came from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, an organization focused on tort reform, the concept of changing laws in the civil justice system to reduce litigation and damages. The group has a history of donating to powerful and established politicians. This year, three Texas House members – Giovanni Campriglione (R-Southlake), Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), and Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas) – received $10,000 each to their campaigns. Texans for Lawsuit Reform granted a total of $112,500 to 32 Texas House and Senate members.
#2 Texas Association of Realtors: $55,000
The Texas Association of Realtors, another powerful PAC, invested over $55,000 in 23 Texas lawmakers. TREPAC contributes to legislators that support their goals: promoting home ownership, protecting real-property rights and increasing political awareness. Rep. Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) received $10,000, the largest contribution the PAC made to a Texas House or Senate member.
#3 Texas Trial Lawyers Association: $33,500
$33,500 from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association was donated to 29 elected officials. As the antithesis of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, Texas Trial Lawyers Association believes anyone accused of a crime is entitled to a trial by jury, and that those causing undue harm must be held accountable. Former San Antonio Councilman, Rep. Ray Lopez (D-San Antonio), received $11,500 from the PAC. Texas Trial Lawyers Association is known to support Democratic candidates and officeholders. Only one of the 29 donation recipients is a Republican – Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall).
#4 NuStar: $22,000
A pipeline and terminal facility PAC, NuStar, contributed $22,000 to eight politicians. Unlikely a coincidence, the four representatives that received contributions from NuStar belong to the Land and Resource Management Committee in the Texas House. Six of the eight donation recipients are Democrats.
#5 Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas: $18,000
Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas PAC donated approximately $18,000 to 19 lawmakers. This session, the PAC made a compromise with the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and the Beer Alliance of Texas that enabled the passage of HB 1545, the “Beer-To-Go” bill.
#6 Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association: $15,500
The Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association PAC, a concrete and cement aggregate, donated $15,500 to 12 Texas House Representatives. The group has gained traction as the expectations for growth in Texas increase. Donations were distributed to representatives that sit on related committees, such as the Environmental Regulation Committee, Land and Resource Management Committee, and Natural Resources Committee.
#7 Associated Republicans of Texas: $15,000
The Associated Republicans of Texas donated $5,000 each to three Republican representatives: Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston), Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), and Morgan Meyer (R-Dallas). This PAC’s purpose is to keep Texas a conservative, Republican-led state. The three donation recipients were representatives that won their respective races in 2018 by a critically close margin. Rep. Bohac won by a 0.1% margin, Rep. Davis won by a 6.4% margin, and Rep. Meyer won by a 0.2% margin.
#8 Independent Bankers Association of Texas: $14,800
The Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) PAC focuses on legislative initiatives affecting the foreclosure process, fees, taxation, and credit allocation. IBAT invested $14,800 in 25 legislators, splitting donations evenly between parties. Interesting to note 24 out of the 25 donations went to House members, with only one senator (Democrat José Menendez of District 26 in San Antonio) receiving $1000 from IBAT.
#9 HillCo: $14,000
A Texas public and government affairs firm, HillCo, donated over $14,000 to 15 state officials. HillCo’s influence and reach is vast, and its partners are involved in nearly every issue affecting the state. HillCo contributed to four Republican incumbents and 11 Democratic incumbents.
#10 Independent Insurance Agents of Texas: $13,300
The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas PAC donated $13,300 to 16 legislators, splitting funds between Democrats and Republicans fairly equally. This PAC works with lawmakers to promote the interests of the independent insurance agency system. This session, the PAC influenced the passage of several bills, including SB 590, which requires insurance companies to notify policyholders in plain-language when coverage is changed.
Ultimately, the largest PAC money contributors cumulatively donated over $300,000 to Texas politicians. Want to follow the money trail? Keep checking back at Reform Austin as we continue to show you the money (and whose campaigns it’s funding) to hold Texas politicians accountable.