Amanda Kerr is calling…

I am getting reports today of a new lobbyist on the Empower Texans payroll. Amanda Kerr has been calling members to discuss their position on various measures that Empower Texans opposes and supports. A quick check with the Ethics Commission does not show her being a registered lobbyist.

The emails coming in about Michael Quinn Sullivan’s visits to member offices in support of and opposition to various measures continure to roll in. Mr. Sullivan has been very very busy. To date, he still hasn’t registered to lobby either. Most of his recent visits relate to SB 346 and his opposition to having to disclose his donors.

Keep up the good work folks… 

Fireworks and more to come…

Only 5 more weeks of session… with that being said, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to mention one of the firework shows from last week. I assume everyone saw Senator Patrick asking the Senate to recall a bill from the House. Why did he take this very unusual move? The bill he wanted to recall went right to the heart of what I have been writing about; the lack of transparency in the operations of Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan. The bill he voted for and then decided (overnight) to recall requires 501(c)(4) groups that are political on nature to reveal their donors- Pretty simple, good government, transparency, Republican bill. Something Senator Patrick has espoused since he got here. So, again, why the change of heart?

It seems that Empower Texans, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Texas Public Policy Foundation all use the 501(c)(4) provision to hide their donors. As you have read in this blog, many of the positions these groups take are directly related to hidden corporate money funded into those groups. Obviously, these groups got to Senator Patrick overnight and convinced him to take this highly unusual step. It appears that these groups, who constantly call for transparency in the operations of others, don’t care a bit for it in their own case. I have made an open records request of Senator Patrick’s office of all correspondence on this bill.

This week the Lottery Commission Sunset Bill will come to the floor for debate. The Republican Party Platform has been consistent in its call for a repeal of the Texas Lottery Act. The legislature has acted in good faith this session on education funding and substantially increased the dollars flowing to public education. Additionally, there is a surplus of revenue in the treasury due to the excellent business climate in Texas, and a Rainy Day Fund that is scheduled to be full in the next two years. Studies are consistent that lotteries are a drain on the economy due to the social cost of the state run gambling operation. The pervasiveness of lottery ticket sales locations and the aggressive promotion of the lottery by the Lottery Commission make participation in buying lottery tickets a matter of course for many citizens. Lottery revenue has been stagnant for many years and contributes a pittance to the general revenue of the state.

Now is the time for Republicans to correct this problem, repeal the Lottery Act and follow the Republican platform. All conservative groups have called for the repeal of this Act which is a continual and persistent drain on the family unit. We will see if these new Republican members are here to promote legislation that will have a real impact on conservative issues or if they are here just to pull publicity stunt at the behest of Michael Quinn Sullivan and Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The results are in…

Wow… I want to thank everyone for their comments and emails regarding the impropriety surrounding Empower Texans/ Michael Quinn Sullivan/ Adenda Wise/ Trey Trainor/ Daniel Greer. I am shocked at how much direct contact Michael Quinn Sullivan has with members and staff on behalf of Agenda Wise/ Empower Texans while he remains an Unregistered Lobbyist. Tax returns prove that he is making well over the $1,000 compensation requirement. Not only is this a clear violation of his transparency mantra but is a VIOLATION OF THE LAW!

I have been researching each and every response. Today I would like to start with the first of many issues that you have brought to my attention…

Issue 1- Taxation

Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan spend quite a bit of their bandwidth arguing against any form of taxation at the state level. The mere mention of the “T” word sends those groups into apoplexy, wildly lashing out at anyone daring to mention the word, preferring to do away with any and all government revenue.

However, in their postings, Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan take no issue with entities that create the highest tax load on taxpayers: special districts. (They also take no issue with taxpayers failing to pay owed taxes, as evidenced by their failure to pay the taxes that give them the right to do business in Texas, as all other businesses properly do).

The special districts are almost all created by large real estate developers to underwrite the infrastructure costs that allow them to build huge developments- and profits- at the expense of the taxpayer. By examining this contradictory position of Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan on this critical tax issue, it is reasonable to presume that large corporate real estate companies are a major source of hidden revenue for ET, AW and MS –and their 6 figure salaries. Remember, their failure to pay their taxes forces all other taxpayers to carry the load.

Issue 2- Charter Schools

The support of Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan for charter schools has been solid and consistent over time. And it should be. After all, over 90% of the disclosed funding for these joint operations comes from Tim Dunn, whose family has made substantial money off of these family run charter school operations, along with Jeff Sandefer, a leading proponent of school reform.

I find their unfettered support of charter schools refreshing, as it ties directly to the interest of one of their major funding sources. And that’s what makes this ongoing examination of the correlation between positions taken by Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan and their hidden funding sources workable- these guys don’t take a position that isn’t somehow tied to making money. There’s nothing wrong with that business model. What’s wrong, and what flies directly in the face of the ethics laws, is the steadfast refusal of Empower Texans, Agenda Wise and Michael Quinn Sullivan to be transparent in their funding. Because the funding is what drives their positioning-and their six figure salaries. And members need to know the source of their funding if they are going to associate with them.

Per your requests I am currently working on liquor, gaming, pay day loans, craft beer, water, pensions, Port of Houston and Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Please email, tweet, or comment with any additional requests. More to come…