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October 9, 2014      5:15 PM

Conservative Senate nominees rattle their sabers at the Ethics Commission

Senator-elect Bob Hall and others say the commission has no authority to regulate dark money; the Texas Government Code begs to differ

Led by Senate Nominee Bob Hall, who narrowly defeated Sen. Bob Deuell in a bitter primary runoff, a group of Republican nominees for the Texas Senate on Thursday said they believe the Texas Ethics Commission is planning to overstep its authority with a proposed rule aimed at revealing some donors of so-called “dark money groups.”

A letter was sent to the commission written by Hall and signed by Rep. Van Taylor, Sen. Charles Perry, Paul Bettencourt, Konni Burton, and Don Huffines. In the letter, Hall said the “legislative process played itself out” on a bill that would have required nonprofits organized under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code to publicly disclose contributors who give more than $1,000 to any dark money group that makes more than $25,000 in political expenditures.

QR readers will recall that Senate Bill 346 by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, was recalled by the Senate after the upper chamber passed it without vocal opposition. But the Texas House refused to send the legislation back to the Senate and it instead landed on Gov. Perry’s desk, where it had a date with his veto pen.

“No doubt, next session, the Legislature will again debate the definition of a political committee and their reporting requirements,” Hall wrote. “Whether it is in Committee, or on the floor of the House or Senate, we can expect this debate to be detailed and deliberative. Most importantly, this debate is the Legislature’s duty and our task alone.”

By Scott Braddock