Report: Reclaiming Our Democracy

Lone Star Election Laws

A Comparative Study Of Texas's Campaign Finance System
Released by: U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Texas lags behind most states in several key areas of campaign finance law, according to a report released today by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Texans for Public Justice. The report, titled Lone Star Election Laws found that Texas is one of only 14 states in the country that place absolutely no limit on what wealthy donors can give a candidate. Further, Texas does nothing to cap the massive levels of campaign spending or limit contributions from out of state donors.

"The sky is the limit for big money in Texas elections," said Derek Cressman of the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. "There's a giant For Sale sign on the Texas statehouse and the bidding price is well beyond the means of ordinary Texans."

"Weak campaign laws give special interests the upper hand in Texas elections," said Craig McDonald, Director of Texans for Public Justice. "Because there are no limits, big donors get all the representation they can afford while the little guy gets left out. Half the money in the last election cycle came from donors who gave $25,000 or more."

The good news is that Texas has a foundation in place for a workable campaign finance system. Texas has banned corporate contributions and is implementing an electronic disclosure system that will allow citizens to track money in politics. If improved, this disclosure system could also be used to enforce a system of contribution limits.

"Texas should set low limits on contributions to campaigns to keep fat cats from determining who can run for office and who wins elections," concluded Cressman.

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