February 18, 2006
How much is that candidate in the window?

I've blogged before about uber voucher proponent James Leininger and his financing of likeminded candidates for the Lege, but I hadn't realized until I read this Harvey Kronberg piece just how much control he exerts over them and their campaigns.

Apparently, Leininger doesn't trust these candidates to run their own campaigns. Very little of his money is actually going to the candidates. Instead, it’s Leininger's PAC that is directly paying the consultants and pollsters. His PAC is bypassing the campaigns and directly buying the television and radio time, as well as paying the people doing the mail and producing the commercials. In fact, it’s fair to say these five campaigns are run by the PAC and its consultants, with the actual candidates reduced to little more than figurehead or employee status.

So it’s not surprising that the voters in Nacogdoches are seeing the exact same cookie-cutter advertising as are the folks in say, Fort Worth, Lubbock or New Braunfels.

When one man all but single handedly organizes, plans and funds five campaigns, local voters might reasonably question whether Leininger's candidates will represent them rather than the wealthy physician from San Antonio.

Beyond the sheer creepiness of this, it's just wrong on more levels than I can count that Leininger could be in a position to weild such an outsized amount of influence over the Lege. James Leininger is accountable to no one, and he may have as many as five legislators who owe their seats entirely to him and his money. I can't think of a better argument for campaign contribution limits. Real ones, ones that take PACs and varations on them into account.

Link via Eye on Williamson, who analogizes Leininger to Clear Channel and its centralization of control over its radio stations.

On the plus side, this does seem to be getting some notice. The Lufkin Daily News has a good editorial on the subject, and one of Leininger's targets is fighting back with an ad that you can hear at PinkDome. I sincerely hope that as of March 8, Leininger will have nothing to show for this effort but a lighter checkbook.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on February 18, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Yeah, that's right - he has brought in consultants from other states, too - I met Macias' girl organizer, who brought really pretty, professionally done lit with her. She a YR from VA., but pretty damned inarticulate, and really uninformed about TX politics. But the $ is obviously there, like it was for Frank Corte when he first ran. Leininger is a menace.

Posted by: dksbook on February 18, 2006 11:29 AM