Business Group’s Guilty Plea for Campaign Violations Is Victory for Texas Voters, Shows Need for Elections Reform

Oct. 21, 2008 

Business Group’s Guilty Plea for Campaign Violations Is Victory for Texas Voters, Shows Need for Elections Reform

Statement of Tom “Smitty” Smith, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Today, the criminal justice system sent a clear message to political operatives, lobbyists and fundraisers: Don’t mess with Texas elections. The Texas Association of Business, the state’s largest business organization, found out the hard way.

The association pleaded guilty today to illegally funneling corporate money into the 2002 campaign, helping elect a slate of state Republican lawmakers. As its punishment, the association will have to pay a $10,000 fine. The association and others who would usurp the will of the people are on notice that these types of campaign finance violations will not go unpunished.

We would like to commend Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle for vigorously pursuing the charges and Common Cause for joining Public Citizen in filing the complaint that led to today’s guilty plea. Credit also goes to Texans for Public Justice and Campaigns for People for helping research the complaint.

Unfortunately, the people of Texas must deal with the consequences of the stolen 2002 election. The congressional redistricting after the election would not have occurred without the support of the candidates illegally backed by the Texas Association of Business.

What happened in Texas underscores the need for substantial reform of our election laws. If a system to provide effective public financing of elections were in place, it would be more difficult for groups such as the Texas Association of Business to illegally influence the outcome of elections.

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