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Greens temporarily make the ballot

The Texas Secretary of State has certified the petition signatures to allow the Green Party on the ballot this fall.

On Wednesday, the secretary of state’s office announced that the party had presented sufficient signatures to field candidates in the fall. The party hasn’t fielded a statewide slate since 2002.

Buck Wood, an Austin lawyer and expert in election law, said the Green Party could have problems if it lists Take Initiative America as the donor instead of the actual source of the funding.

He says Texas law requires more transparency in reporting political money. He said if Take Initiative America is a corporation, it is forbidden from making a donation. If the company is not a corporation, there are other reporting requirements aimed at better disclosing the original donor, he said.

[Kat Swift, state coordinator for the Green Party in Texas] said if the party gets written confirmation that it can legally list Take Initiative America as the in-kind donor, it intends to move forward and field candidates in the fall campaign. She said the group has until June 30 to make the decision.

The TDP has now filed suit to force the disclosure of the donor or donors’ identity.

The motion for a restraining order was filed this morning in district court in Austin. If granted, it would allow lawyers for the Democratic Party to take depositions of participants under oath to find out who bankrolled the effort.

And just like that, a temporary restraining order is granted.

[The TRO] will prevent the Green Party from certifying any candidates for the November ballot for the next 14 days. The big question is whether the Green Party’s use of out-of-state money to gather the more then 92,000 signatures they submitted to get on the ballot (well above the 44,000 necessary) violates state law.

[…]

Regarding today’s decision, TDP General Counsel Chad Dunn said, “The public should view this as a victory for fair elections.” Ultimately, he said, his goal is to expose a “conspiracy between Dave Carney and Tim Mooney,” the former being a prominent advisor to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The issue will be revisited at a hearing set for 9 a.m. on June 24. In the meantime, Dunn says he will be in the discovery process getting to the bottom of what he referred to as “this Republican Rick Perry conspiracy.”

If you’re wondering what Dave Carney has to do with this, let the Lone Star Project enlighten you.

Documents obtained by the Lone Star Project reveal that Rick Perry’s top political advisor Dave Carney has a long and direct link to the manager of the Texas Green Party/GOP ballot scam. In 2004, Carney teamed-up with Texas ballot scam leader Tim Mooney to gather signatures to put Ralph Nader on the ballot in order to assist the George W. Bush Presidential campaign.

In 2004, Carney worked with a group called “Choices for America, LLC” which was “run” by Mooney – the same Republican operative who collected signatures for the Green Party of Texas in 2010. (Dallas Morning News, August 12, 2004) Both Choices for America, LLC, the shell group used in 2004, and Take Initiative America, LLC the shell group used in 2010, are registered to Charles Hurth III. (Missouri SOS)

According to the Dallas Morning News, “Perry campaign spokesman Mark Miner said the governor’s campaign had nothing to do with the petition-gathering effort.” It now appears that statement is likely not true.

Now you know why these guys like to operate in secret. I agree with what the DMN says.

The bottom line on Texas campaign-finance law is that corporations, either for-profit or nonprofit, can’t legally contribute to candidates or to parties, except to cover party administrative expenses. Yet the Green Party says it intends to report the nonprofit Take Initiative America as the source of an in-kind contribution.

The legality of the money behind the Green petitions needs to be tested in court. The secretary of state’s office will validate signatures but does not administer campaign-finance laws. Campaign finance is the purview of the Texas Ethics Commission, which typically investigates complaints and levies fines.

Other scenarios that would root out the facts involve a civil action by Democrats or an investigation by the Travis County district attorney. Either way, the integrity of the finance laws must be ensured.

The reason why the money came from the non-profit Take Initiative America to the Green Party is because Take Initiative America doesn’t have to disclose who its donors are. For all we know, it’s one wealthy person who wrote the check that covered the cost of getting the petition signatures. The fact that this can be done in secret is the problem. We have a right to know who is attempting to influence our elections. BOR has more.

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One Comment

  1. Brad M. says:

    I think people are losing sight of what is important here. Carole Keeton Strayhorn and her campaign managers were idiots. They spent $1M on their petition campaign in 2006. They coulda’ gotten their signatures for just a measly $200K if they’d used Free & Equal.

    So to sum…

    A) Free & Equal did a pretty good job for $200K and should be commended
    B) I am glad Strayhorn did not become governor or else Texas’ budget woes could be even greater. And to think…she was our Comptroller. Dang, where was her brain?