Diminishing Returns

The filing of spending reports always prompt emails from alert readers that give me good leads.  It doesn’t hurt that Mike and the other Tim Dunn/Jeff Sandefer underlings spend a lot of time in Starbucks (that’s fiscal responsibility for you) running their mouths in earshot of my readers.

Empower Texans and Dunn continue to maintain that they are the embodiment of the grassroots movement and Mike pipes out his contrived message, claiming that, thanks to them, their “conservatives” (as defined by MQS, Dunn & Sandefer supported “scorecards”) are taking over the legislature.  Let’s take an objective look at that…

Excluding the corporate dark money operations of Texas for Fiscal Responsibility and Texas Public Policy Foundation, Empower Texans PAC has spent about the following per cycle:

2010: $150,000

2012: $150,000

2014:  over $3,800,000 and counting 

What did that buy Dunn?  Using their own analysis, consider:

Empower Texans/ Dunn’s Scorecard GOP Average:

2009:  82.25

2011:  82.5

2013:  63.8

Dunn’s “Passing” legislators:

2009 – 64 members.  around 84% of GOP members in 2009

2011 – 82 members.  around 82% of GOP members in 2011

2013 – 38 members.  around 40% of GOP members in 2013

2015 – probably about 23 members?  Can’t quantify a percentage but I expect that Empower Texans will not help their members in the general election… funny how they don’t mind spending big bucks to beat other Republicans but aren’t nearly as interested in beating a Democrat???

Another interesting statistic is their growing dependence on freshman House members and their inability to maintain influence with the same members from one session to the next:

In 2009 there were 2 freshman House members out of 23 House members who received an “A” on their legislative scorecard (8.9% Freshmen)

In 2011 there were 10 freshman House members out of 28 House members who received an “A” on their legislative scorecard (35.7% Freshmen)

In 2013 there were 12 freshman House members out of 19 House members who received an “A” on their legislative scorecard (63.16% Freshmen)

The only members to maintain their “A” rating from 2011 to 2013 were Jodie Laubenberg, Bill Zedler, Van Taylor, David Simpson, Bryan Hughes and Stephanie Carter. Shocking, huh?

Empower Texans spends a lot of money attempting to buy members of the legislature but once they are sworn in, they have a very difficult time maintaining any control. I hear countless stories of “I didn’t know this is what they are REALLY about…” and then they choose a lower “grade” because they want to vote their district. Plus members are becoming wise to the fact that Empower Texans and Dunn cook the books on their scorecards.  They pick hundreds of votes that they lobby members to take a position on, then cherry picks less than 10 of the votes to form their “scores”.  They do this to ensure that the members they currently own outright get high scores; those that choose instead to represent their district are given low scores. 

So in rigging the scores and feeding their legislative cattle with generous jobs, contributions from all of Dunn’s various operations and “research” from his public relations from, Texas Public Policy Foundation, they have unintentionally revealed what members understand:  whatever influence they have is dropping like a rock and Dunn’s reputation is taking a beating.  Empower Texans is not able to have longstanding allies as Dunn spends millions of dollars hiring substandard, underperforming lobbyists, bloggers, lawyers and spokesmen. He watches as all of his efforts fail.  The number of members associated with his operations has plummeted.  His “policy” machine, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, is wholly ignored by the legislature, implementing none of their recommendations.  That’s in spite of TPPF’s rumored $20 million building and their $6.5 million yearly budget.  Empower Texans and Mr. Dunn’s operations are under investigation by state agencies, and he has been relegated to supporting candidates that are subject to restraining orders and have various legal issues—from securities violations to double-dipping expense reimbursements.

Now he can certainly make the point that while the number of members that he holds sway over has dropped dramatically, but the ones he has are totally beholden to him financially and are much louder:  valid. 

But as for the effectiveness of his operations at affecting legislation and electing more “conservatives” as defined by Dunn, the return on his and Empower Texans increasingly expensive expenditures to buy the legislative process is having significantly diminishing returns. 


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