Vol 31, Issue 6 Print Issue

Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.
Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans and Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Ethics Commission Takes First Step on Dark Money Disclosure

The Texas Ethics Commission took a small step Thursday toward doing what the Legislature was unable to do last session — figure out a way to get the politically active nonprofit groups that have become increasingly active in recent years to disclose the identity of their donors.

The Week in the Rearview Mirror

A federal judge in San Antonio heard arguments Wednesday in a case seeking to overturn Texas' gay marriage ban. But even if the judge strikes down the ban, an appeals process will likely prevent same-sex couples from rushing to get married.

Ted Cruz put his party's Senate leaders in a tough spot Wednesday: vote against the Democrats on raising the debt limit and risk damaging global markets, or vote with the Democrats and hand Tea Party challengers a line of attack. In the end, the top two Senate Republicans, including senior Texas Sen. John Cornyn, voted to allow final passage of the legislation.

Former Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos was sentenced Tuesday to 13 years in prison for his role in a corruption scheme that in recent days has become a hot topic in the governor's race. GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott referred to "corruption resembling third-world country practices" in a Dallas speech that raised hackles in the Rio Grande Valley and among Democrats. Abbott later said his comments were not directed specifically at the Valley. In a separate visit to the Valley, land commissioner candidate George P. Bush said Abbott's comments had been "taken out of context."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis released the latest of her education reform proposals, calling for the state to increase access to full-day pre-kindergarten programs and prioritize early-childhood reading programs.

In January, an additional 89,500 Texans selected a health plan on the insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, according to federal data released Wednesday.

Through the middle of this week, attorney general candidate Dan Branch and lite guv candidate Dan Patrick had spent virtually the same amount of money in network TV ad buys in the state's four biggest media markets. Branch had spent a little more than $1.9 million, and Patrick had spent a little less than $1.9 million. The third-biggest spender was comptroller candidate Glenn Hegar, who spent about $1.1 million. Early voting in the party primaries begins on Tuesday.

GOP U.S. Sen. challenger Steve Stockman filed a libel lawsuit in Harris County against a PAC supporting the incumbent John Cornyn. In the suit, Stockman accuses the group of spreading untrue statements, including falsely asserting that he was charged with a felony. Media reports later focused on Stockman's own statements to a reporter that during a two-day stint in jail in 1977, officers found three tablets of Valium he had smuggled in his underwear.

Political People and their Moves

Billy Ray Stubblefield of Georgetown was reappointed by Gov. Rick Perry as presiding judge of the Third Administrative Judicial Region. Formerly a district judge in Williamson County, Stubblefield was first appointed presiding judge in 2010. His term expires four years from the date of qualification.

Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols of Spring Branch was reappointed adjutant general of Texas by Perry for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2016.

Perry reappointed 11 members to the Governor's Commission for Women for terms to expire Dec. 31, 2015. He also named Maria "Carmen" Pagan of McAllen chairwoman and Elisa "Lisa" Lucero of Austin vice chairwoman of the commission.

Emily Willeford Christy was appointed the Texas Department of Public Safety Foundation's first executive director. Christy previously managed the USAA public policy program and the USAA Employee PAC.

The political arm of the Texas Medical Association endorsed Republican Greg Abbott for governor; Glenn Callison, a Republican running in the Collin County-based HD-66; and Skip Ogle, a Republican challenger running in the Smith County-based HD-6.

The Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT) endorsed Republican Greg Abbott for governor and Republican Dan Branch for attorney general. In addition, it endorsed Democratic state Rep. R.D. "Bobby" Guerra of Hidalgo County-based HD-41 for re-election.

Texas Parent PAC endorsed Ann Hodge in the HD-132 Republican primary. The district, based in western Harris County, is open because the incumbent, Bill Callegari, is not running for re-election. The PAC also endorsed Steve Massengale, who is challenging Charles Perry in the Republican primary for the South Plains-based HD-83.

Texas Right to Life endorsed Karen Harris in the HD-53 Republican primary. The rural district, which covers territory northwest of San Antonio, is open because the incumbent, Harvey Hilderbran, is running for state comptroller. The group also endorsed former GOP state Rep. John V. Garza, who is running to reclaim the seat in Bexar County-based HD-117.

GOP attorney general candidate Ken Paxton was endorsed by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey as well as by Grassroots America - We the People PAC, which bills itself as one of the largest constitutional conservative organizations in Texas.