When Gary Gates was running for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission he was in favor of giving big oil companies pay-for-play access to regulators.
At a 2016 candidate forum, Gates was asked if he supported a proposal to prevent commission members from receiving political donations from people and companies with a matter before the commission.
Gates was one of three candidates that opposed the conflict of interest proposal because it would “threaten donors’ First Amendment rights.”
“I believe donations are a form of free speech,” said Gates, a wealthy real estate agent, and cattle rancher.”
Gates’ support of corruption didn’t end with his losing campaign for Railroad Commission, or the six losing campaigns before it. After Gates spent $5 million of his own money to run for a spot on the commission, he formed Texas Citizens Coalition.
Gates’ private astroturf group is designed to push some of his pet causes, including trying to drum up support for bills that benefit commercial property owners like Gates — who owns several apartment complexes in such bad condition he’s been called a “slumlord.”
Texas Citizens Coalition also supported some of the key players in the Bonnghazi scandal, including Speaker Dennis Bonnen himself. Before Bonnen ascended to the speakership, Gates’ group was decidedly pro Joe Straus.