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November 4, 2014      5:18 PM

Federal lawsuit is filed over new Texas Ethics Commission dark money rule

Complaint says the rule is “not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest”

As expected, a federal lawsuit has been filed after the Texas Ethics Commission recently adopted a rule aimed at exposing donors of some dark money groups. Both Republicans and Democrats on the commission unanimously voted at their last meeting to require nonprofits that try to influence elections to reveal their donors if they spend 25 percent or more of their annual budget on politics.

The commission had already sought to clarify that dark money groups can spend up to 20 percent of their revenue on political expenditures without disclosing the names of donors. That would be a “safe harbor.”

The Lake Travis Citizens Council, a group that describes itself in a court filing as citizens who are committed to making "life better for the citizens, businesses, and communities in the Lake Travis area," filed suit in the Western District of Texas. Named in the suit is the agency’s executive director, Natalia Ashley, in her official capacity.

By Scott Braddock