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TAB gives it up

The Texas Association of Business has finally surrendered documents to Travis County investigators who are looking to see if secret donations had been made last year that helped pay for campaign ads.

Since January, the association has fought — and lost — at every appellate level to stop the investigation into how it raised and spent $1.9 million in secret corporate donations in 24 state legislative campaigns.

Association President Bill Hammond refused to surrender correspondence, billing records and other details about the ads. Association employees Jack Campbell and Cathy DeWitt refused to testify about their roles in the ad campaign.

[…]

State law forbids corporations from spending corporate money for electioneering. [TAB attorney Andy] Taylor said his client’s ads were beyond regulation because they educated voters without advocating election or defeat of candidates.

The association’s argument that the ads were protected free speech would be undercut if [Travis County DA Ronnie] Earle proves coordination between the association and the candidates or their campaigns.

We’ll see what happens next. Individual donor names are currently blacked out per agreement with the judge and the DA’s office. The investigators are looking for evidence that the TAB was in bed with the candidates.

You can see all of the Statesman’s coverage of this story, which kicks the Chron’s butt from here to Galveston, here. The Austin Chronicle has also been all over it.

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