Influencer disclosures

I approve of this.

Texas’ top campaign finance watchdog gave initial approval last week to a proposal that would require social media users to disclose if they are being paid to share or create political advertisements.

The Texas Ethics Commission’s action comes just months after The Texas Tribune reported that a secretive and politically-connected company, called Influenceable LLC, paid internet influencers to defend Attorney General Ken Paxton ahead of his Senate impeachment trial.

The proposed rule could be finalized at the commission’s next meeting in June.

Commissioners did not mention Influenceable by name at their March 20 meeting. But the agency’s general counsel, James Tinley, noted that the rule change was in response to “at least one business” that paid social media users for undisclosed political messaging.

“It is not a hypothetical,” he said. “There is at least one business whose business model now is to do just that.”

In August, the Tribune reported on Influenceable’s attempts to sway public opinion ahead of the impeachment trial by paying Gen Z social media influencers — some with millions of online followers — to claim that Paxton was the victim of a witch hunt. They also flooded social media with posts that accused House Speaker Dade Phelan, a longtime Paxton foe who greenlit the House investigation, of being a drunk.


Influenceable’s tactics outraged some Republicans last summer. Rep. Tom Oliverson, R-Cypress, told the Tribune at the time that he was disgusted by the “manufactured outrage” and called for Influenceable to be investigated. Oliverson, who announced last week that he is running to be House speaker for the 2025 legislative session, also said he’d like lawmakers to address companies like Influenceable when they next meet. Since then — and amid a 2024 GOP primary that was rife with misinformation — other Republicans have also suggested reforming some of the state’s ethics and political advertising rules.

See here for some background. There’s a lot that ought to be done with campaign finance reform, much of which would certainly run afoul of SCOTUS as currently constituted. One thing that might be doable is exactly this, increasing the amount of transparency required for the money that freely and often very discreetly flows into the system. Maybe it wouldn’t do much to stop it, or to get people to see the puppetmasters when they become more visible, but it would do something. At the very least, the truly repugnant and rapacious forces behind all that cash mostly seem to not like having their names attached to any of it, so this could provide somewhat of a disincentive. I’m more than willing to try it and see. I’m a little surprised to see even this much support for this relatively modest reform, if only because like so much else it all traces back to the same handful of billionaire theocrats that run the modern Republican Party in Texas, but it’s there and I’ll take it. Now let’s see if this also translates to some action in the Lege next year. It would be nice to have at least one piece of legislation to anticipate with something other than dread and disgust.

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One Response to Influencer disclosures

  1. David Fagan says:

    …….brought to you by Carl’s Jr.

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