I see my dude @christackettnow is looking at campaign finance in the Lt Gov race. I've been looking at the Attorney General stuff. Mute this thread if you don't care :) #txlege
AG Ken Paxton had a big campaign haul, again, this cycle: $2.5m. (I'm sure @christackettnow will do his analysis of Paxton vs. Kim Olson on # and average size of donors.) But a couple of things stood out to me in Paxton's filing. #txlege ...
First, major donors to Empower Texans & related PACs make up about 17% of Paxton's fundraising this filing. Kyle Stallings, Windi Grimes, Dick Saulsbury, the Sparkses, Wallace Hall, and Kathaleen Wall all gave. But there were 2 massive Empower-world donors there, too... #txlege
Paxton got $100k from Darlene Pendery this filing. (Pendery is the author of this tweet to TX Speaker of the House, who is Jewish.) One wonders if Pendery is switching to statewide races bc she gave $279,500 to 22 #txlege House primary candidates this year & only 6 of them won
But Paxton's biggest donation this filing: $250k from Empower founder Tim Dunn. That's 10% of the total. Dunn/Empower have a long history with Paxton, but their $$ to him really ramped up in the 2014 primary for AG, when Paxton won the runoff against Dan Branch. #txlege
In that 2014 primary cycle for Attorney General, Empower Texans & its major donors made up 22% of Paxton's money. That's BEFORE you include the $1 million loan #EmpT made to Paxton to get him over the top in the runoff. Include the loan & it jumps to 48%. #txlege
(let's pause to ask the Governor whether "dumping" $1 million into a race is a lot of money.)
HT @scottbraddock #txlege
So in the 2014 primary+runoff for #txlege AG, Empower & its donors got $1.85m to Ken Paxton. And he won the runoff, virtually assuring he would be the next Attorney General of Texas. That $1m loan was paid off by the end of 2014. But who paid Empower Texans back for their gamble?
(Hint: it wasn't Empower Texans.)
After the runoff, Empower gave Paxton $0 & its major donors gave him only $167.5k out of $4.85m raised. $1m of that $4.85m paid back that Empower loan, meaning: Empower got paid back on its gamble w/$$ from more mainstream GOP donors. #txlege
So Empower loans Paxton $1m to get thru #txlege AG runoff. They know if he wins, mainstream GOP donors will back him (which will enable him to repay the loan) bc that's what partisan donors do. It's been a bit since I did my MBA, but I keep thinking about leveraged buyouts.
That's the little not-so-way-back machine trip on the connection between Empower Texans and AG Ken Paxton. Empower + donors in its orbit have given Paxton $2.24m over the years (12% of his funding). This cycle alone they're at $657k, and Dunn's $250k looks like a ramp-up #txlege
Now let's talk timing of donations!
In Feb., Paxton launched an investigation into "illegal electioneering" in public schools. (Empower folks are big on school vouchers & didn't love the idea of #txed teachers mobilizing to #blockvote in #txlege primaries)
texastribune.org/2018/03/16/tex…
As Paxton was opening up this investigation, Empower Texans was on the same schtick. Here's a @dallasnews editorial on the "whistleblower" letters Empower started sending teachers in February. #txlege dallasnews.com/opinion/editor…
(PS typing too fast with too many tabs open - sorry, of course AG Ken Paxton is up against @NelsonforTexas in November, not Kim @KimOlson4TxAg, who is running for Ag Commissioner. AG! Ag!) #txlege
OK, so Paxton & Empower both going after #txed teachers in February/March 2018. Also in March? Empower gets dinged for sending out misleading mailers under the alias "Texas Ethics Disclosure Board" (because, transparency?) in the @charliegeren / Bo French #txlege race for HD99
I receive no points for this, and may God have mercy on my soul. Kim Olson is running for Ag Commissioner in Texas. Justin Nelson is up against Ken Paxton for AG. AGAgAGAgAGAg moar coffee
So Empower (actually in late Feb, sorry) sues in federal court to prohibit 3 DAs & Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from launching any criminal investigations on the matter. (The court dismissed the suit.) #txlege
texastribune.org/2018/03/16/cou…
But here's a million-$$-question: Did AG Paxton say, "my fellow Texans, I've received a lot of money from this group over the years. If this matter rises to the level of attention from my office, I will recuse myself"? No. His office was silent. #txlege
star-telegram.com/news/politics-…
He doesn't *have* to comment, of course. But he is funded heavily by a group that purports to be all about transparency & against "cronyism" & "special interests." Going the extra mile on this to acknowledge a potential conflict would seem to be in line with that ethos. #txlege
Interestingly, in 2015 Paxton was seen to be vigorously pursuing a case *against* Empower Texans, on behalf of the Texas Ethics Commission. Here, from August 2015 #txlege butwaittheresmore
houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/…
...but by September 2016, AG Paxton, representing the TEC, "effectively ended its pursuit of subpoenas in the investigation." TEC subsequently said, "Quite frankly, we cannot rely upon the office of the attorney general for representation." #txlege
texastribune.org/2016/09/08/emp…
another case in which the AG refused to represent the Texas Ethics Commission was this one - an Empower candidate suing over a law barring the use of footage produced by the #txlege in political ads. In neither case did Paxton recuse himself.
houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/…
Of course, the AG's office is fully allowed to decline to represent a state agency. The question is whether we can know the motives behind these decisions when the current AG came into power on strength of $2m+ from the PAC (& its major donors) involved in these cases. #txlege
(Sorry, tangent on how #txlege AG could increase public confidence in the office.) Back to timing of $$ from Empower's Tim Dunn: 250k on 3/31/18. Happened just after Paxton targeted #txed, <30 days after Empower sued Paxton to stop the investigation on Charlie Geren mailer.
But maybe timing doesn't really matter. Dunn has given $390k directly to Paxton since 2014. But Dunn gave $3.61m to Empower Texans in the 2014 cycle: 99% of Empower's total haul! So they're thick as...what's the old saying? I can't remember. Anyway, enjoy your Wednesday. #txlege
👆🏼this thread I’ve embedded really is worth a read. It seems that taxpayer money is being used bc the AG won’t make resources available to the ethics commission.

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