Texas Democrats raised small donations after fleeing to Washington to lobby for the right to vote • OpenSecrets
Texas State House Democrats who fled the state in an unsuccessful attempt to block a Republican-backed voting bill in the first summer special session received a lot of money in small contributions from donors across the country, according to new campaign fundraising records.
House Democrats broke the chamber quorum in early July when a majority of the caucus boarded two flights to Washington, DC, where they pressured federal lawmakers to enact greater protections for voting rights.
Democrats ultimately failed to defeat the bill, which they said would restrict voting access, after enough caucus members returned to the Texas Capitol to form a quorum. The bill was passed by the legislature at the end of August and was promulgated on September 7.
The breaking of the quorum has gained national attention and supported the Democrats’ fundraising efforts. The six Democratic leaders of the House of Representatives collectively raised more than $ 51,000 during the one-month special session, with the median donation being just $ 1.50. The money came from more than 2,700 donors in 49 states.
State Representative Chris Turner, chairman of the Grand Prairie Democratic House caucus, raised the largest number of leadership group members, receiving $ 22,797. State Representative Alex Dominguez, general counsel for the Brownsville Caucus, raised the second largest amount at $ 21,239.
Other Democratic lawmakers have raised even more. State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio raised more than $ 63,000 from more than 2,100 donors during the session. His median donation was $ 10.
Only one member of the Texas House Republican Caucus executive had tabled the special session report at the time of publication. State Representative Candy Noble, Lucas’ caucus secretary, said she raised $ 1,630 from five donors.
Texas House Chairman Dade Phelan, a Republican from Beaumont who is not on the caucus executive, said he raised $ 94,666 from eight donors, including the Real Estate Council of Austin PAC and Harlan Crow, a promoter real estate and a major Republican donor. .
The latest campaign documents did not require candidates to declare their expenses during the special session. Campaign contributions to legislators are prohibited during ordinary sessions but not during special sessions.
Accommodation and travel expenses for more than 50 Democratic state representatives were split between campaign accounts of Turner, Martinez Fischer, the state party caucus and the US-Mexico legislative caucus, according to the Texas Tribune. .
Martinez Fischer said he had $ 136,872 in cash at the end of June and Turner reported $ 263,471 in cash as of the same date.
“We received small amounts, which is an indication of the grassroots, average people who believe in the cause and send small amounts,” Democratic Representative Armando Walle of Houston told the Austin American-Statesman. .
The House Democratic Caucus budgeted $ 1.5 million for the trip and covered the costs of two private planes that flew members from Austin to Washington, the Austin-American Statesman reported. It is not known how much the caucus spent on planes.
Legislative caucuses only need to report their expenses every six months – the most recent filing is June 30 – and do not need to report the amount of money they hold.
Beto O’Rourke, Texas’ former representative in the United States and Democratic presidential candidate, also helped fund the quorum breaking. He announced in July that his PAC leadership, Powered By People, had raised more than $ 600,000 for the state’s Democratic caucus to cover the costs of the trip.
O’Rourke said donations came from more than 15,000 people who contributed an average of $ 36. Texan musician Willie Nelson and his wife Annie were part of PAC’s fundraising efforts, who said they each contributed $ 5,000.
Texas Republicans attacked the opposing caucus for their escape from the state, with Gov. Greg Abbott calling the act a “taxpayer-funded junket” and saying the fleeing members could be arrested. Republicans argued that lawmakers still received taxpayer money in the form of per diems and wages while preventing the legislature from moving forward.
Turner told the Texas Tribune that he anticipates Democratic lawmakers will deny their per diems while they are away.
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