Bell lawsuit award against RGA tossed by appeals court

Some old history got raked up recently.

Chris Bell

An attorney for failed 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell is considering appealing a state appeals court’s decision to throw out a $2 million award to Bell in a lawsuit where Bell contended a national Republican organization violated state laws with $1 million in campaign donations to Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

The 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin tossed the August 2010 judgment by a Travis County judge who ruled in Bell’s favor, agreeing instead with arguments from the defendant, the Republican Governors Association, that out-of-state organizations can’t be penalized for disclosure violations and aren’t required to designate a state treasurer.

Bell’s lawyer, Buck Wood, told the Austin American-Statesman [last] Friday he may ask the appeals court to reconsider its ruling or take the case to the Texas Supreme Court.

“As soon as everyone figures out what I already know, then there won’t be any reporting (of political contributions),” Wood said. “There will be lots of money thrown into Texas, and you won’t have any idea where it’s coming from.”


The Republican governor’s group received money from Houston developer Bob Perry, the nation’s largest individual donor during the 2006 election cycle, and Bell’s lawsuit accused the governor of trying to hide the donation. The governor is not related to the developer.

Bell argued the money was illegally funneled through the organization in the final days of the 2006 campaign.

See here for the background. As William Faulkner once said, past elections are never dead, they’re not even past. My first reaction when I heard this was “Wait, wasn’t there a settlement in that lawsuit?” No, there was a settlement in Bell’s separate lawsuit against Rick Perry over the same thing; see here and here for background on that. I wonder if Perry is kicking himself now for having settled. In any event, I don’t know why we have rules if they never get enforced. Of course, the way things are going at the federal level, we might not have any rules soon enough.

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