Campaign Finance

Tracy Olson/Flickr

With less than six weeks before the general election, candidates are burning through their campaign cash to make that final push to win. But, when the race ends, some still have money left in the bank.

So what are lawmakers allowed to do with that money? 

Are corporations people? The U.S. Supreme Court says they are, at least for some purposes. And in the past four years, the high court has dramatically expanded corporate rights.

Today is the first day that campaigns and candidates for the Austin City Council can start soliciting or accepting political contributions. Although many things will be radically different this election cycle, asking for money will remain practically the same. 

When Austin voters changed the city’s form of government in 2012, they did not change anything when it comes to campaign contributions. Still, the city’s clerk Jannette Goodall says campaign contribution limits are adjusted every election cycle according to inflation.

For instance, the charter says 300 dollars “and I believe the current amount is 350,” says Goodall.

Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill last session that would have subjected some groups to stricter campaign finance disclosure rules.  Now, the Texas House State Affairs Committee is taking another look at campaign finance law. 

The committee is taking up the issue of secret campaign spending by politically active nonprofits – aka "dark money" groups that can contribute large sums of money to political action committees without having to disclose their donors. Committee Chair Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, says voters have a right to know who’s influencing elections.

Texas Tribune

Harold Simmons, a Dallas businessman and billionaire, philanthropist and Republican mega-donor, died Saturday at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. He was 82.

His death was first reported by The Dallas Morning News. Simmons’ wife, Annette, told the paper he had been “very sick for the last two weeks” and said the family had celebrated Christmas at the hospital.

Barely three years after the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United ruling, which liberated corporations to spend freely in elections, the justices say they'll take up another campaign finance case — this time aiming at one of the limits on the "hard money" that goes directly to candidates and party committees.

Paul photo courtesy; Change photo courtesy

A big part of Ron Paul’s Libertarian-informed message is fiscal conservatism. And he has the campaign records to prove it.

ProPublica surveyed the campaign finance filings of the Texas congressman running for the GOP presidential nomination, and found that Paul’s campaign cataloged practically every petty cash expenditure – even though candidates don’t need to write down individual expenditures totaling less than $200.

Pro Publica notes:

The latest reports from the Federal Election Commission shed new light on the political largesse of two Texas businessmen who have become common names in the world of Republican fundraising.

With a $1 million check in February to the superPAC backing Rick Santorum, Dallas nuclear waste dump owner Harold Simmons and his wife, Annette, have now contributed to groups supporting all three of the top GOP candidates.