from plaintiffs’ lawyers, LIFT gave $40,000. Her Republican opponent, Bennie Bock of New Braunfels, reported total contributions of $76,763. Attorney General Jim Mattox has been vocal in denouncing the insurance industry for creating the “insurance crisis” and opposes proposed tort reforms. Not surprisingly, reform advocates are pouring money into the campaign of his opponent Republican Judge Roy Barrera, Jr. By July 2, at least $295,680 of the $814,226 the campaign had raised had come from individuals, companies and organizations that would benefit from legal changes limiting plaintiffs’ rights. More than a third, then, of Barrera’s total contributions were generated by those with an interest in tort reform. legislators and their supporters share some sort of political perspective, Schwartz explains that the role of the lobbyists is to “mold the philosophy” of the legislator. And when legislators “are faced with the cold hard facts, votes and philosophies are not so exact as they think when they are elected.” Thus, the money being spent now is intended to make the lobbyists’ job of philosophical persuasion easier in January. Although it is impossible to quantify the power of campaign contributions, it is valuable to know just who is giving what to whom. Texas reporting laws allow hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent in every campaign season without adequate public accounting. No Limits The most outstanding feature of the Texas Election Code is that it does not cap the amount individuals may give to a campaign. There is also no requirement that donors reveal their profession or corporate affiliation. When a Mr. Gene Canavan gave the Barrera campaign $20,000 on May 29 it did not go on record that he is chairman of the board of a large San Antonio insurance agency: Nothing appeared remarkable about the donations the Barrera campaign received on April 25 until upon investigation it turned out that at least eight of the contributors are upperechelon officers of the Mesa petroleum company. \(Their combined contributions on that day were $2,700, over the course of the campaign to date Mesa and its employees have given $12,550 als all gave together does not mean that the contributed money came from the corporation, which would violate Texas law, but it is an interesting pattern to be aware of. The same pattern emerged when seven of the donors on May 7 turned out to be associates in the law firm Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue. Their contributions on that day were $6,000. Individuals may also loan campaigns unlimited amounts of money and there is no requirement that the terms of the loan be disclosed. Essentially many are probably contributions. Trammell Crow had “loaned” the Barrera campaign $90,000 by July 2. That is in addition to at least $23,000 he, family members, and Trammell Crow Company officers had donated. For those who do not want to flaunt their political activities, political committees provide the perfect contribution vehicle. The major problem with unrav elling the significance of PAC donations is discovering who they represent. \(Although corporations are not allowed to directly contribute to a campaign they may use company money to establish staff, administer and solicit funds for a ter with the Secretary of State’s office but only by their PAC name. There is no list of the companies, organizations and individuals that have formed PACs or hired lobbyists. Nor is there a requirement that a PAC name give any indication of who it represents. The only clue to the significance of contributions made by the Ft. Worth Good Government Fund can be gleaned from the fact that the only contributors to the fund are Perry R., Sid R., Lee M., Robert M., and Edward P. Bass. General purpose political committees are required to list the occupation of all their donors but specific purpose committees need not. Specific purpose committees are formed to donate only to identifiable candidates or positions in an issue election. Their more lax reporting requirements are ideally suited to the large donor seeking anonymity. Being able to identify who individual donors are is becoming increasingly important, for PACs are retreating from the role of centralized contributors for interest groups and instead organizing contributions by individual members or supporters. The SCJC only reported spending $90,392 and making one direct campaign contribution by the 1986 primary but, according to their lobbyist James Williams, the money donated by their supporters was far greater than this, conceivably approaching the $3 million the committee originally announced it would raise. Williamson prefers to generate donations by individual members rather than make contributions through the PAC. This method is as effective “just so long as the receiver knows [the donor] is a member of the organization.” “It is not always a necessity to do things in the public eye,” Williamson explains. Reporting requirements for lobbyists are also hardly adequate. Lobbyists must file activity reports periodically but these just ask that the lobbyist list the total amounts spent during the reporting period in three broad areas: entertainment, gifts, awards and loans, and mass media. Expenditures are not required to be itemized. Lobbyists need not identify which officials were the recipients of their largesse nor on whose behalf it was dispensed. Lobbyists also do not need to record any figures on their income. It is impossible to know how much a company is paying a lobbyist for his or The Nature of the PAC CLEARLY THE BATTLE over tort reform involves some of the most powerful special interest groups in Texas politics. It is a dramatic example, for it involves an effort by special interests to limit the rights of individuals in the courts. But in the final analysis, just what role does this money play? How powerful is it? Clearly it gets candidates elected. PAC money is the bedrock of a political campaign, as Babe Schwartz puts it. “PACs are the way campaigns are financed now.” Period. Schwartz served in the Senate for nearly 20 years and is now a lobbyist. A campaign contribution provides the PAC’s lobbyist with access to the official. PAC money is so crucial to receiving a hearing from legislators that most lobbyists set the condition that any organization they will represent fund a political committee, Schwartz says. Having money behind him or her is crucial to a lobbyist’s success at the job and, Schwartz notes, giving a hearing to one’s supporters is what it takes to be a good elected official. Donations to incumbents strengthen a reciprocal relationship; access for support. A donation to a newly elected official identifies a group as one whose lobbyist will be seeking “an opportunity to put on his selling shoes.” “The man with the PAC is trying to separate himself from the pack,” says Schwartz. So, does money buy votes? Is there still room for political ideology in this money-dominated system? Well, maybe. PACs seldom make contributions to candidates philosophically opposed to their interests. Given that the 10 OCTOBER 24, 1986
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