New Report Highlights Dark Money and Corporate Influence in Texas Politics

Over $150 million has been invested into buying Texas lawmakers by a handful of Texas billionaires – and Texas law allows it

AUSTIN, TX – As the Texas Legislature convenes on November 9 for public hearings in the fourth special session, Common Cause Texas released a report “ALEC-tioneering: Unmasking Money & Influence in Texas Politics.”

The report shines light on the biggest actors using their wealth to corrupt Texas politics and shape the agenda of the Texas state legislature in 2023 on issues ranging from; public education, to immigration policy, to holding politicians accountable for unethical and criminal behavior by way of impeachment.

“Our report shows that on major issues of the day, our legislators are voting in the interest of their campaign donors rather than the people of Texas,” said Katya Ehresman, Common Cause Texas voting rights program manager. “But it doesn’t have to be this way – options have been left on the table for over a decade to cut these insidious ties that have let corporations and mega donors be the puppeteers of our state. We are asking the Governor and state lawmakers to put an end to the pay-to-play politics and strengthen the voice of everyday Texans in public discourse.”

Concluding the report are four necessary reforms to take Texas off the merry go round of pay-to-play politics: 

  • First, strengthen the Texas Ethics Commission. There is a clear and present need for a stronger Texas Ethics Commission with more staff, more robust investigative powers, and the enforcement powers to hold officeholders accountable for unethical actions.
  • Second, demand dark money disclosure. Democracy dies in darkness and it is well past time that Texas lawmakers take a light to the evasive and eroding impact of dark money, especially demanding accountability alongside the increased transparency and disclosure.
  • Third, create campaign cash control, moderating money in politics. Texas is one of just a handful of states to have 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. Common Cause exists to ensure we have a democracy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few.
  • Finally, institute public financing of campaigns. An overwhelming majority of Americans believe wealth plays too large a role in our political system. Perhaps the most effective reform our legislature could adopt to restore balance in politics and make it possible for everyone to have a more equal voice is public financing of campaigns. Further, candidates who are less reliant on special interest dollars and better able to act in the interests of the public interest.