A group of Texas legislators held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the critical need for campaign finance and transparency reforms in the wake of a recently aired CNN special “Deep in the Pockets of Texas” which focused on the outsized influence a small number of wealthy conservatives have in Texas.
Republican state Sen. Kel Seliger said in the documentary, “It is Russian-style oligarchy, pure and simple. Really really wealthy people who are willing to spend a lot of money to get the policy they want and they get it.”
Here in Texas, campaign finance reforms are long overdue to return power in this state to the people.
The reforms being sought include:
- limits on campaign contributions
- modernizing the Texas Election Commission
- having elected officials’ Personal Financial Statements available to the public online on a state website
- allowing local candidates to file campaign finance reports online
- advocating for federal action to curtail the influence of dark money elections.
Statement from Common Cause Texas Executive Director Anthony Gutierrez
Common Cause exists to ensure we have a democracy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few. And that’s why we strongly support the reforms announced today by Representative Zweiner and others.
Texas is one of just a handful of states that places no limits on the amount of money an individual can give to a candidate running for state office. This allows wealthy Texans to have far too much influence with legislators of both parties, while Texans of lesser means face obstacles in having their voices heard. Thankfully, there are policymakers from both parties speaking out on the long overdue need for change.
Public policy may be bending in the direction of wealth, but only as long as we let it. Limiting how much one wealthy individual can give a candidate would be a huge step towards a better, more representative democracy for the Lone Star State.
To put this problem into context for Texans who might wonder why they should care whether or not we have contribution limits – Last year, our energy grid failed and Texans across the state were freezing in their homes. But mega-donors like oil and gas billionaire Kelcy Warren got far richer and then turned around and used his considerable wealth to block bills that would have helped prevent this dangerous scenario from repeating itself.