April 30, 2004
Public Citizen and Common Cause Call for Criminal Investigation of State Republican Party’s Campaign Spending
Party May Have Illegally Spent Million of Dollars in Corporate Money in 2002 Elections in Texas
AUSTIN, Texas – Public Citizen and Common Cause today called on Travis County Attorney David Escamilla to open an investigation to determine whether the Republican Party of Texas used corporate contributions to influence state elections. A news report has indicated that in the 2002 elections, the party may have illegally used more than $5 million in corporate funds for television advertisements, direct mail, polling and other activities prohibited by law.
On a number of occasions, the Texas Ethics Commission has reviewed state law and ruled that corporations can contribute only to cover routine administrative expenses of the party and for primary election administration. That money also must be handled in a separate account from non-corporate or union money.
However, according to an April 25, 2004, Houston Chronicle story, the Republican Party of Texas in 2002 transferred money from its corporate account to the Texas Congressional Campaign Committee (TRCC), a federal party committee. Corporate funds can be used only for administrative expenses, but records show the money may have been used for non-administrative state campaign purposes, such as polling, voter drives and political consultants.
“The party claims to have spent an enormous sum on administrative costs in the 2002 elections, but when you look at their expense reports you see payments for voter drives, list acquisition, political consultants and television ads affecting state candidates,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of the Texas office of Public Citizen. “One expense was for the production of an ‘issue’ ad by ‘Dirt Road productions.’ It would be more than a little ironic if the party had used ‘dirty’ money to pay for this type of ad. The county attorney should investigate to determine whether or not that happened.”
The Chronicle also reported that on federal forms, the Republican Party of Texas described a $1.9 million television advertising campaign and $453,815 in direct mail costs as “administrative.”
“Since 1905, Texas law has prohibited corporations from contributing to campaigns within the state. Our forefathers had learned that the contributions from corporations would be paid back in policy. As the saying goes, you dance with them that brung ya,’ ” Smith said.
Click here to view a copy of the complaint.