Gov. Rick Perry vetoed his first set of bills on Saturday afternoon, including Senate Bill 346, Sen. Kel Seliger’s “dark money” disclosure bill, which would have shed light on funding for some political nonprofit groups.
“While regulation is necessary in the administration of Texas political finance laws,” Perry said in a statement, “no regulation is tolerable that puts anyone’s participation at risk or that can be used by any government, organization or individual to intimidate those who choose to participate in our process through financial means.”
“This is a sad day for integrity and transparency in Texas. Governor Perry’s veto of SB 346 legalizes money laundering in Texas elections,” Seliger (R-Amarillo) said in a statement. “The Governor’s veto is ironic since money laundering is illegal in other endeavors.”
“As other states have stepped forward to ban election money laundering by dark money 501c4 non-profit corporations, it is embarrassing that the Lone Star state is now an official safe haven for political money launderers,” he continued.
Among the groups that would have been required to disclose their donors is Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, headed by the brash tight-spending purist Michael Quinn Sullivan. After the Senate quietly passed the bill last month, Sen. Dan Patrick went to great lengths trying to recall it, saying he hadn’t realized what the bill would do. The House refused to let the Senate have HB 346 back, though, and passed it directly to Perry’s desk.
Tea party groups including Houston’s King Street Patriots have issued an “urgent call to action” in recent days, asking supporters to call Perry and ask him to veto the “sleeper bill,” saying it would “make lobbyists of anyone who goes to Austin to advocate for good government if they are associated, even as a volunteer, with an organization.”
Seliger’s take, of course, is much different.
After the news reached the Senate floor Saturday, a reporter asked Seliger, “Did Quinn Sullivan win here?”
“No, you never really win when you’re trying to conceal money laundering,” he replied.
Seliger said that he would not fight to override the governor’s veto before the session ends, which would require a two-thirds vote. “There doesn’t seem to be real strong support for it,” he said. “Sometimes courageous is tough to find,” he said.
Seliger said he would try to override the veto during a special session if one is called, though.