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January 6, 1980, would have to file a report revealing all contributions and expenditures from January 1 through January 5. There’s likely to be nothing much to report. In contrast, the officeholder’s opponent can wait until 30 days before the election to file a report that encompasses the same period. To demand this special report from officeholders is arbitrary and contributes little to disclosure. The requirement ought to be dispensed with. The current penalties for violating reporting requirements are not tough enough to serve as a deterrent. These sanctions for failure to comply should be increased. No state official now has the authority to enforce the disclosure laws adequately. The secretary of state lacks the power even to file a formal complaint with prosecuting authorities against a deliberate violator. The secretary of state’s office has no statutory authorization to review reports for compliance and notify violators that their reports are inadequate. The state’s chief election officer is reduced to the status of a custodian of reams of documents submitted by lobbyists, PACs, candidates and their campaign committees. Public awareness of reporting violations depends on the chance that someone will come across them in the course of perusing the reports. If the secretary of state’s office is to be the enforcer of the disclosure laws in fact as well as in name, the agency must have the power to do the job right. The secretary of state should be expressly empowered: To determine whether lobbyists and PACs have fully complied with the disclosure law, and to file timely complaints against those who have not. Enforcement would be dramatically enhanced by the use of the computer capability that already exists in the secretary of state’s office to find out whether PAC records match up with the records of contributions received by candidates. The Legislature would have to appropriate additional funds for this purpose, but it would be worth it. To review the reports submitted by candidates, campaign committees and officeholders, and to notify violators of their failure to comply with the law. A copy of the written notice of violation should be filed with the offending report as part of the public record, and it should stay in the file for five years, instead of only two as the law now provides. The longer period would preserve notices of noncompliance at least from one election to the next, when the public would again have a heightened interest in campaign finances. Unless the Legislature gives the secretary of state these enforcement powers, the other changes proposed here would amount to nothing more than window-dressing. Likewise, unless the reporting requirements themselves are changed along the lines I have suggested, Texas will continue to have disclosure statutes that do not compel full disclosure, but do catch those who have to report in a crossfire of meaningless, inconsistent and repetitious demands for information. All of the reforms I recommend are grounded on three principles: that what we seek is genuine and timely disclosure, not the illusion of it; that our reporting system should be stripped down to the requirements that are essential to that purpose; and that only once that is done can we cope with the realities of modern campaign practices. The point to remember is that just as candidates, officeholders, PACs and lobbyists have their roles to play in politics, so also do individual citizens, for they are the ultimate guarantors of the integrity of the whole process. Citizens cannot play that role properly without timely access to the facts about where the political dollar comes from and where it goes. Texas’ disclosure laws should provide no less. Steven Oaks was secretary of state from October 1977 to . January 1979. He is a partner in the Houston law firm of Butler, Binion, Rice, Cook & Knapp, and is a registered lobbyist for the city of Houston. lists total contributions of $8,341 for the year and only $250 for July, but it also “incorporates by reference” two other reports submitted separately by the Tribute to Jim Nugent Committee, and these reveal that Nugent struck it embarrassingly rich last July. The committee collected a total of $49,412, including: a $5,000 joint contribution from Kerrville banker Glyn Stewart, Gulf & Western director John Duncan and oilman W.F. Roden; $2,500 from Robert R. Shelton, head of Shelton Ranches and former executive vice president of King Ranches; $1,000 each from LIFT, the Texas trial lawyers’ PAC, and Lee & Lee, a Mason law firm; and contributions from six PACs that also gave money to Nugent directly during the course of the year. \(You can take it with you, by the way; Nugent’s surplus of $49,289 at year’s end went along when he was appointed to the Railroad ComHouse Speaker Bill Clayton’s fundraising and reporting for 1978 followed the same pattern as Nugent’s. It appears, though, that the speaker managed to raise about twice as much money for his unopposed candidacy and for such officeholding essenBut the best reading in Clayton’s officeholder file is in three identically-phrased letters, all dated December 29, 1978, which announce that 11 honorariums Clayton received for speaking engagements in ’75, ’76, and ’77 have been “returned” upon his “discovery” that the groups he got them from “were in fact nonprofit corporations.” The announcement is prefaced with the remark that “there exists a great deal of confusion about the acceptance” of such payments “due to the inconsistency of the statutes dealing with them”which is true, but tells less than the whole story. Direct contributions from corporations are illegal, and one of Clayton’s honorariums came directly from Diamond Shamrock Oil Corporation \(Obs ., to gloss over the violation by suggesting that: he has just lately discovered that Diamond Shamrock is a corporation; he still doesn’t know the difference between an oil company and the nonprofit associations that paid his other honorariums; he has rejected these contributions, not accepted them and then reimbursed the givers. Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Greenhill’s 1978 officeholder report shows that he too has been giving back contributions, but the circumstances are distinctly different. Greenhill collected $4,085 in the early part of 1978 for his unopposed re-election effort, mostly from lawyers, but he returned almost all of the money in December, much of it without ever having cashed the contributors’ checks. The chief justice shouldn’t have been taking campaign money from members of the bar in the first place, but the qualms about it reflected in his report are to his credit. The ’78 reports reveal that praise is owed to just a handful of incumbents who ran unopposed last yearSupreme Court Justices Sam Johnson and Charles Barrow, Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Wendell Odom, and Land Commissioner Bob Armstrong. The three jurists accepted no contributions at all in 1978; Armstrong accepted two, totaling $600, but reported them before the May primary because he thought the voters had a right to know. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5