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January 21, 2016      12:19 PM

Speaker Straus to Empower Texans' new mega-donors: "Welcome to the fray"

At the TAB Conference, Straus encourages business leaders to get directly involved in the political and legislative process: “Don’t just leave it to the special interest groups or the special interest think tanks.”

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus did not mince words on Thursday when he was asked about the new mega-donors to Empower Texans.

“Welcome to the fray,” Straus said of the Wilks Brothers following a brief speech to the Texas Association of Business Conference in Austin.

Quorum Report was first to note that Farris and Dan Wilks of Cisco have now joined Midland oilman Tim Dunn in pouring money into Dunn’s Empower Texans and allied organization Texas Right to Life. The Wilks sold their relatively small oil field services company several years ago for a huge amount: $3.5 billion.

Ethics Commission filings show the low-profile brothers have now put $500,000 into the Empower Texans PAC and there is justified speculation about how much they’re donating, if any, to the Empower Texans 501(c)(4) non-profit which is also politically active but does not report its donors.

Straus said groups like Empower are angry because “they don’t have a puppet they can control” in the Speaker’s Office. Those groups are not focused on solutions that will make Texas an even better place to live and maintain the state’s status as a powerful economic engine, Straus said.

By Scott Braddock