Here’s a little tid-bit about ethics, or the lack thereof, and politics in Texas that may not make some of my more conservative friends too happy.
It takes a lot of money to run a successful political campaign. Friends like Sherrie Matula, democratic candidate for the Texas House of Representatives from District 129 down Houston-way, know this all too well. She’s been reading my stuff on education and endorsing it (see her comment in response to my Teachers’ Social Security? posting). How candidates in Texas acquire the funds they need is the subject of this posting.
I found a reference to another blogger’s article this morning in my daily delivery from the Texas Freedom Network. It was written in the Pink Dome, an electronic news website that is said to be written with tongues planted firmly in cheeks. The article was about a Political Action Committee (PAC) called The Future of Texas, one of the front groups that James Leininger used to funnel money into Texas House races back during the primary. The PAC originally focused on aiding loyal Craddick representatives like Berman, Reyna, Swinford, Campbell, Howard, Krusee, Hill, Grusendorf, Crabb, Hegar, Betty Brown, Eissler, Flynn, and Phillips. Of late, according to the article, it has also been used to secure three solid votes come the 80th session, with money still going to likely future Reps Dale Hopkins, Brandon Creighton and Tan Parker. Anyway, the PAC is no more, yay! They filed their final report a little over a week ago.
Oh well, as I think about it, this just means that Leininger will find some other way to funnel money to the political right. That’s what he does. One must wonder, however, why a successful organi- zation like The Future of Texas has closed-up shop. Could it possibly mean that that the Texas Ethics Commission was running out of excuses not to deal with it following the criticism that the commission received in a two-page report published by a Travis County grand jury last week? Read all about it in this American-Statesman article.
Here’s a snippet from the fore-mentioned article just to wet yer whistles a bit: Texas public officials are hiding sources of income and potential conflicts of interest by calling themselves consultants on state financial disclosure forms, and an investigation into “obvious misconduct” by one official was thwarted by the practice, a Travis County grand jury has complained in a two-page report.
Those of you who have called yourselves Texans longer than I have will remember that Texas used to be in the BLUE column. It produced some mighty powerful democratic statesmen… and women, Lydon B. Johnson, Jim Hightower, Jim Wright, and Ann Richards for example. Today, many districts are hard-pressed to even find somebody willing to run on the democratic ticket and many democrats have switched parties. How come? Well, redistricting and all that aside, I think money, and how candidates find what they need of it to conduct successful campaigns has a lot to do with it. Republicans appeal to businesses, business interests, the wealthy and those who hope to be so someday. Democrats have traditionally appealed to individuals, the little men and middle men like most of us. So, their money-making machines haven’t been so big and so powerful. There’s lots of them, but they’ve always been smaller and less well-organized.
Now, it’s not like democrats have never been implicated in scandals of various kinds. But lately, just from what I’ve been reading in the papers, this seems to be pretty much Republican turf. And like Will Rogers said, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers.”
Today, the Internet has dramatically changed the way democrats raise money in this country, and there’s absolutely nothing shady about the way it’s being done. Money raised for one purpose is not laundered for other uses, and computers keep track of individual contribution limits. Consider the great success in fund-raising by using the Internet that was pioneered by Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and later adopted by Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts in the last presidential race. The same kind of thing is being done here at the state level for local elections this year.
When the lawmakers of one party hold all the power, a party that primarily represents the interest of the wealthy, the government is no longer a democracy. It’s a plutocracy (check out the definition of plutocracy on Wikipedia), and that’s pretty much what we’ve got here in Texas right now. So, if you’re not quite ready yet to give up entirely on the ideal form of government, a multiparty democracy, visit http://actblue.com and pledge your financial support for the democratic candidate(s) of your choice. I have. You can only vote for candidates in your own voting district, but you can help others financially from other districts who may have better chances of being elected.
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