June 17, 2019 •

Bill Limiting Lobbyist Contributions Signed

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures. Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee […]

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 2677 prohibiting persons required to register as a lobbyist from knowingly making or authorizing certain political contributions or political expenditures.

Prohibited contributions include those to another candidate, officeholder, or political committee from political contributions accepted by the person as a candidate or officeholder or by a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting the person as a candidate or assisting the person as an officeholder.

Under House Bill 2677, making a contribution described above requires a person to refrain from lobbying for a two-year period following the date the person makes or authorizes the contribution.

An exception is created for persons seeking to influence legislation or administrative action on behalf of nonprofit organizations, low income individuals, and a group of individuals with disabilities, and those not receiving compensation for their communications with members of the legislative and executive branches.

House Bill 2677 will go into effect on September 27, 2019.

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April 18, 2019 •

Texas Local Ethics Bills Being Considered

The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill to allow its counties to enforce local ethics rules.

Senate Bill 710, the Local Government Reform Act, seeks to allow each county to adopt an ethics code enforceable by a local ethics commission.

There is a similar law already in existence allowing local ethics enforcement in counties with a population over 800,000 and an international border.

El Paso County is the only county currently meeting this description.

Also moving through the Legislature is House Bill 1495, aiming to give ethics enforcement powers to El Paso and Montgomery Counties.

If passed, both bills would go into effect on September 1, 2019.

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February 28, 2019 •

Dallas Campaign Finance Violations Rampant

This week, information was released showing many members of the Dallas City Council have committed apparent violations of the city’s campaign finance laws. Some councilmembers have said the violations are due to errors in reporting made in good faith. In […]

This week, information was released showing many members of the Dallas City Council have committed apparent violations of the city’s campaign finance laws.

Some councilmembers have said the violations are due to errors in reporting made in good faith.

In addition to receiving contributions from minors, many received contributions over the city-imposed limits. Currently, no body or office is responsible for oversight of campaign finance reporting in Dallas.

To further the problem, the city disagrees about whether the ethics panel could investigate campaign finance violation complaints, or whether the responsibility would fall on the city secretary.

The city has asked the Texas Ethics Commission to intervene, but the state commission has declined to get involved.

Currently, Dallas has a $1,000 individual contribution limit per election cycle for City Council races and a $5,000 individual cap on mayoral races.

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January 22, 2019 •

Special Election Announced in Texas

Gov. Greg Abbott has set a special election for House District 125 to occur on February 12. State Rep. Justin Rodriguez resigned after being appointed as a Bexar County commissioner. Early voting begins on January 28.

Gov. Greg Abbott has set a special election for House District 125 to occur on February 12.

State Rep. Justin Rodriguez resigned after being appointed as a Bexar County commissioner.

Early voting begins on January 28.

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January 7, 2019 •

Updates to Texas Lobbying Law

Effective January 8, a lobbyist who had also been elected to public office is prohibited from making or authorizing, from political contributions accepted as a candidate or officeholder, a political expenditure that is a political contribution to a candidate, officeholder, […]

Effective January 8, a lobbyist who had also been elected to public office is prohibited from making or authorizing, from political contributions accepted as a candidate or officeholder, a political expenditure that is a political contribution to a candidate, officeholder, or political committee.

This restriction applies after the ending date of the last term for which the lobbyist was elected to public office. This law was created by House Bill 505 of the 2017 Legislature and adds Section 305.029 to the Government Code.

On December 14, 2018, the Texas Ethics Commission adopted an amendment to Texas Ethics Commission Rules §50.1, increasing the legislative per diem from $190 to $221.

Per Texas law, the detailed reporting threshold for food and beverages, entertainment, transportation, and lodging is 60 percent of the legislative per diem.

The detailed reporting threshold therefore increased to $132.60 for these expenditures made on or after January 6, 2019.

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January 2, 2019 •

Special Elections Scheduled for Texas House Districts 79 and 145

Gov. Greg Abbott announced January 29, 2019, as the special election date for House Districts 79 and 145. Rep. Joe Pickett of District 79 will resign effective January 4, 2019, citing health issues. In District 145, Rep. Carol Alvarado resigned […]

Gov. Greg Abbott announced January 29, 2019, as the special election date for House Districts 79 and 145.

Rep. Joe Pickett of District 79 will resign effective January 4, 2019, citing health issues.

In District 145, Rep. Carol Alvarado resigned after being elected to the state Senate.

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November 9, 2018 •

No Surprise, Abbott Wins Re-election in Texas

Governor Greg Abbott won re-election in Texas, easily defeating democratic challenger Lupe Valdez. Abbott won 55.8 percent to Valdez’s 42.5 percent. This was a win many saw coming, as Abbott led in all polls preceding the election. A conservative state, […]

Governor Greg Abbott won re-election in Texas, easily defeating democratic challenger Lupe Valdez.

Abbott won 55.8 percent to Valdez’s 42.5 percent. This was a win many saw coming, as Abbott led in all polls preceding the election.

A conservative state, Texas has elected a republican governor in every election since 1994. The race was largely uneventful compared to previous elections.

A former Dallas County sheriff, Valdez ran as an advocate of the Texas working class.

Abbott mostly ignored her during the race and touted the successes of his first term in office and used his large fundraising efforts to assist candidates in down-ballot races.

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November 7, 2018 •

Ted Cruz Fends Off Beto O’Rourke and Keeps Senate Seat

Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has kept his senate seat after a fierce election contest brought by U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. O’Rourke, a three-term Democratic Congressman from El Paso, Texas, garnered national attention for creating a competitive race against […]

Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has kept his senate seat after a fierce election contest brought by U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

O’Rourke, a three-term Democratic Congressman from El Paso, Texas, garnered national attention for creating a competitive race against Cruz, who had been assumed to have a seat safe from any real election challenge.

The challenge by O’Rourke motivated president Trump, a sometimes-critic of Cruz, to hold a political rally for the Republican senate candidate in October in Houston.

Cruz’s election victory yesterday in Texas helped the Republicans keep control of the U.S. Senate.

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August 13, 2018 •

Dallas Councilman Pleads Guilty, Resigns

Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway pled guilty to federal corruption charges last Thursday and has resigned from City Council. Caraway admitted to accepting $450,000 in bribes and kickbacks from two figures in a scandal last year that brought down a […]

Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway pled guilty to federal corruption charges last Thursday and has resigned from City Council.

Caraway admitted to accepting $450,000 in bribes and kickbacks from two figures in a scandal last year that brought down a school bus agency named Dallas County Schools.

City Attorney Larry Casto told City Council a special election must be added to the November 6 election to fill the vacancy.

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July 2, 2018 •

Texas Governor Sets Special Election

Gov. Greg Abbott set the special election for House District 52 for November 6, 2018, the same day as the general election. The seat was vacated by Larry Gonzales, who decided to retire early after previously announcing he would not […]

Gov. Greg Abbott set the special election for House District 52 for November 6, 2018, the same day as the general election.

The seat was vacated by Larry Gonzales, who decided to retire early after previously announcing he would not seek another term.

House District 52 contains parts of Williamson County.

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June 28, 2018 •

San Antonio Passes Ordinance Expanding Campaign Disclosure Rules

This month, the San Antonio City Council approved substantial changes to the campaign finance and ethics codes. The new ordinance requires additional campaign finance reports and disclosure of the name and title of anyone contributing $100 or more to a […]

This month, the San Antonio City Council approved substantial changes to the campaign finance and ethics codes.

The new ordinance requires additional campaign finance reports and disclosure of the name and title of anyone contributing $100 or more to a council member or mayoral campaign.

In the same council meeting, an ordinance increasing campaign contribution limits by 50% did not pass as a result of a tied vote.

The new disclosure and reporting rules will go into effect starting on July 1, the beginning of the next campaign cycle.

The passed changes are not yet available online but are anticipated by the City Clerk to be available this week.

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June 22, 2018 •

Texas special election scheduled

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special election this week to fill a vacancy after the surprise resignation of state senator Carlos Uresti. Uresti, a democrat representing Texas Senate District 19, was convicted on 11 felony counts of fraud and money […]

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special election this week to fill a vacancy after the surprise resignation of state senator Carlos Uresti.

Uresti, a democrat representing Texas Senate District 19, was convicted on 11 felony counts of fraud and money laundering earlier this year but refused to resign until the appeals process was complete.

Uresti urged the governor to hold the election in November to coincide with the regularly scheduled election to save taxpayer money but Gov. Abbott scheduled the emergency special election for July 31, 2018, noting Uresti’s district has been “without effective representation” for over a year as a result of legal troubles.

Pictured: Former state senator Carlos Uresti

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April 27, 2018 •

Special Election Scheduled to Replace Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special election this week to replace U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold. Farenthold resigned his seat in congress this month after an ethics investigation stemming from a 2014 sexual harassment allegation. The special election will take place […]

Gov. Greg Abbott called a special election this week to replace U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold. Farenthold resigned his seat in congress this month after an ethics investigation stemming from a 2014 sexual harassment allegation.

The special election will take place on June 30, 2018, and a runoff election is anticipated to be held this fall.

Gov. Abbott sent Farenthold a letter this week requesting he pay for the cost of the special election since he has not reimbursed the $84,000 of taxpayer money he used to settle the sexual harassment claim.

The letter asked for a response to the request by May 2.

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April 12, 2018 •

Texas Representative Resigns

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold resigned his seat in congress last week following a string of ethics investigations stemming from a 2014 sexual harassment allegation. Farenthold, under fire for using $84,000 of taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim, announced […]

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold resigned his seat in congress last week following a string of ethics investigations stemming from a 2014 sexual harassment allegation.

Farenthold, under fire for using $84,000 of taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim, announced his retirement in December, but said he planned to serve out the remainder of his term ending in January of 2019.

Gov. Greg Abbott is tasked with calling a special election to fill the seat for the remainder of the year. Gov. Abbott can schedule the special election on the state’s next uniform election date on November 6, or can order an emergency election on any other Tuesday or Saturday.

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