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PAC ruling overturned

An earlier injunction against a Republican PAC has been overturned by the Texas Supreme Court.

The Texas Supreme Court today overturned a lower court ruling that had ordered a Republican political action committee to stop raising or spending corporate money until after the Nov. 2 election.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of The Associated Republicans of Texas, which had said the money was used to finance its overhead.

The PAC has contributed money to Republican campaigns for 30 years and has raised at least $688,000 in corporate money since 2000.

A state district judge last week temporarily froze the group’s corporate account after two Democrats, David Leibowitz of San Antonio and Bob Glaze of Gilmer, filed a lawsuit claiming the committee violated state law that prohibits candidates from taking corporate cash.

Leibowitz challenges Rep. Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, and Glaze challenges Rep. Bryan Hughes, R-Mineola, in state House races.

[…]

The plaintiffs alleged that the corporate money, known as soft money, raised and spent by the committee freed up so-called hard money — direct contributions from individuals — to be contributed to the campaigns.

A judge had ordered a hearing on the issue Nov. 3, a day after the election.

The Supreme Court said the practical effect of the temporary injunction and hearing date would affect the committee’s right to participate in the election and would amount to a “non-appealable determination” that it had done something illegal without a hearing on the evidence.

A spokeswoman for the committee said most of the big money cited by the plaintiffs was raised to cover legal costs in lawsuits over redistricting. The committee said it only has about $3,000 in corporate money in a separate account it uses for things such as rent and supplies.

Presumably, the actual litigation will proceed after the election as originally planned.

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2 Comments

  1. HWRNMNBSOL says:

    So let me get this straight. Large corporations cannot funnel large amounts of money directly to campaigns. However, they can funnel them to PAC’s in a skeevy manner, and while it might be illegal, the courts will not enforce stopping such transactions until after the election. After the election, presumably, the PAC’s will be found guilty and will have to pay a heavy fine. But said fine can conceivably be paid by a large corporation, since there’s no law preventing corporations from donating freely to legal defense funds.

    Doesn’t this represent a generally usable endrun around campaign finance reform? Or am I being naive and this happens all the time already?

  2. Mathwiz says:

    But said fine can conceivably be paid by a large corporation, since there’s no law preventing corporations from donating freely to legal defense funds.

    Point well taken. But I don’t think legal defense funds can be used for fines. I’m not sure about that, though.

    Still, would the TSC have taken this action if the PAC in question had been Democratic? Maybe, but given that:

    1. The PAC is a Republican PAC; and
    2. All TSC judges were elected as Republicans

    it sure looks suspicious, to say the least.

    Have I mentioned lately that it’s a bad idea for judges to have to run as Democrats or Republicans?