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Governor Rick Perry Vetoes Senate Bill 346

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The 83rd Session of the Texas Legislature is winding down and on Saturday, Governor Rick Perry (pictured, right) took action on some bills passed by the Legislature.  Perry vetoed two bills; including the high profile Senate Bill 346.  SB 346 would have forced new reporting and disclosure measures for non-profit political advocacy groups, and their donors. Under the bill, 501(c)4 groups that spend $25,000 or more on politicking would be required to publicly disclose contributors who contribute more than $1,000.

Concerning the veto of SB 346, Governor Perry said, “Freedom of association and freedom of speech are two of our most important rights enshrined in the Constitution. My fear is that SB 346 would have a chilling effect on both of those rights in our democratic political process. While regulation is necessary in the administration of Texas political finance laws, no regulation is tolerable that puts anyone’s participation at risk or that can be used by any government, organization or individual to intimidate those who choose to participate in our process through financial means.

Perry continued, “At a time when our federal government is assaulting the rights of Americans by using the tools of government to squelch dissent it is unconscionable to expose more Texans to the risk of such harassment, regardless of political, organizational or party affiliation. I therefore veto SB 346.”

Texans For Fiscal Responsibility

One of the most outspoken opponents against SB 346, Michael Quinn Sullivan, issued a statement after the veto, “Governor Rick Perry today saved Texans from the threat of harassment and intimidation simply by virtue of their contributing to non-profit entities that speak out politically. The governor’s veto of SB 346 sends a welcome message, that the Lone Star State won’t tolerate infringements on clear constitutional rights or chilling limitations on political speech.”

Sullivan is the president of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. He continued, “While the bill authors and others singled out Texans for Fiscal Responsibility as their legislative target, their legislation would have put the regulatory crosshairs principally on conservatives, but more generally on anyone daring to challenge the ruling elite. A broad coalition of groups and organizations spoke out against a measure that was as improperly handled procedurally as it was misguided in intent.”

Meanwhile, within minutes of veto’s announcement, Senator Kel Seliger (R- Amarillo) issued his own statement.  Seliger was a supporter of SB 346, “This is a sad day for integrity and transparency in Texas.  Governor Perry’s veto of SB 346 legalizes money laundering in Texas elections. The Governor’s veto is ironic since money laundering is illegal in other endeavors.  As other states have stepped forward to ban election money laundering by dark money 501c4 non-profit corporations, it is embarrassing that the Lone Star state is now an official safe haven for political money launderers.

“Again, the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United vs FEC case clearly stated that disclosure of contributions was critical to the right of corporations to participate in our system of democracy. The Court said: “The First Amendment protects political speech; and disclosure permits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper way. This transparency enables the electorate to make informed decisions and gives proper weight to different speakers and messages,” said Seliger.

 

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