Lawyer and lobbyist Steve Bresnen is asking Texas’ campaign finance regulators to shine a light on secret campaign spending in state elections. Reinvigorating the debate over dark money spending in the Lone Star State, Bresnen filed a petition for rulemaking with the Texas Ethics Commission on Tuesday asking the state panel to ensure “all contributors of money used to influence elections would be disclosed.” (read full the petition here). “The purpose of my proposal is to eliminate ‘dark money’ from Texas elections by dragging it into the sunlight,” Bresnen wrote to acting Executive Director Natalia Luna Ashley. “Secret money influencing elections — the life blood of self governance — is intolerable as a matter of law and is against the public interest. The Commission should exercise its authority to do something about it.”
The issue of dark money has been a political lightning rod since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission. That decision paved a path for outside groups like super PACs and 501(c)(4)s to raise and spend unlimited sums from corporations, labor groups and deep- pocketed individual donors. And while both 501(c)(4)s and super PACs can accept unlimited sums of cash, only super PACs are required to identify donors.
As a result, super PACs regularly set up sister outfits in the form of a 501(c)(4)s to funnel money anonymously to candidates or to fund attack ads. That’s how they got the ominous title “dark money” groups.
In Texas, the issue hit home during the legislative session when Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a dark money disclosure bill that would have required politically active 501(c)4s to reveal contributors who give more than $1,000 to any dark money group that spends $25,000 or more on politicking.
Full Article: Texas ‘Dark Money’ debate rekindled – Texas Politics.