Former House Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, is lobbying for the Texas Entertainment Association — the euphemistically named trade group for the state’s strip clubs.Full Story
State politicians have made beating up on federal intrusion a cottage industry, but haven't hesitated to tell local governments what to do. On Thursday, local government representatives pushed back on two bills aimed at restricting how and when they can communicate with state lawmakers.Full Story
The Texas Ethics Commission can't do its job if compliance is "wholly voluntary," says one member who thinks the commission should stop all enforcement activities in response to a judge's recent dismissal of its ruling against conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan.
State law requires lobbyists to report what they spend on legislators, other state officials, state employees, and their relatives and guests. But the loopholes are big: Less than 5 percent of the lobby's reported spending on food and beverage names the eaters and the drinkers.Full Story
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has set an ambitious agenda for his first legislative session, and there to guide him will be a newly minted private advisory council. A Tribune analysis reveals that the companies owned and operated by many of the people Patrick has appointed to the council heavily lobby the Legislature and rake in millions of dollars in state contracts.Full Story
The Texas Ethics Commission has ordered Michael Quinn Sullivan, leader of the conservative advocacy group Empower Texans, to pay a $10,000 fine for failing to register as a lobbyist in 2010 and 2011.
Whether they have a longstanding interest, like H-E-B CEO Charles Butt, or are branching into new territory, like Texans for Lawsuit Reform, some of the state's top political donors advocate for education issues. Use this interactive to track their contributions to the lawmakers who make decisions on policies affecting the 5 million students in Texas' public schools.
Advocacy groups and business owners urged lawmakers to crack down on companies that misclassify their employees for tax and immigration purposes. But in the final days of the session, it's clear that many lawmakers don't want to wade into the uncertain territory of immigration enforcement.Full Story
A troubled cancer-fighting charity paid a tobacco lobbyist to represent its interests in the Legislature, even as it was winding down its operations and facing the wrath of lawmakers. Amid questions about the charity's spending, the lobbyist gave up the job Tuesday.Full Story
Ahead of the 83rd legislative session, the state’s 10 leading health care associations gave more than $4.6 million to Texas candidates. This interactive shows how much — and to whom — health care associations donated in 2011 and 2012.Full Story
Since relinquishing their seats in January, 11 former House members and one former state senator have registered as lobbyists with the Texas Ethics Commission — and several of them are working for clients in industries they regulated in the Legislature. Some lawmakers find the practice unsavory; they've filed bills to require legislators to take a cooling-off period before jumping to the lobby.Full Story
The results of the new University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll on everything from the top race of 2014 to the gun debate, Aaronson on Medicaid expansion, Aguilar on a financial thaw in the Mexican oil patch, Batheja on cents and sensibility, M. Smith on school choice, Rocha and Dehn on TWIA reform, Galbraith on water and fracking, Murphy’s interactive map of poverty in the state, E. Smith's TribLive interview with House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock and Root on a lobby couple living large and reporting small: The best of our best content from March 4-8, 2013.Full Story
Whether it’s lobbyists’ spending on legislators or lawmakers who don't disclose their spouses' interests on personal financial statements, Texas ethics laws are full of holes. Government watchdogs say the loopholes make it difficult for the public to know who might be doing favors for whom under the Capitol dome.Full Story
Lobbyists Andrea and Dean McWilliams are big entertainers, and they don't mind sharing details of their big soirees with society magazines. But they haven't disclosed much of it to the Texas Ethics Commission.Full Story
Charity fundraisers give lobbyists and political donors a way to show their support to officeholders during legislative sessions — when the law prohibits direct contributions. An officeholder raising money for a good cause looks the same as a lawmaker using a powerful position to make donors do something they might not otherwise do.Full Story
For this week's nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked about officeholders and their staffers who leave government and join the lobby, about what they should report, whether they should be able to donate leftover campaign funds to other candidates, and about whether they ought to sit out for a while before they start seeking favor with their former colleagues.Full Story
Soon after their replacements were sworn in last month, eight former House members registered as lobbyists with the Texas Ethics Commission. Some lawmakers have filed bills barring their colleagues from becoming lobbyists so quickly after leaving their seats.Full Story
While members of the Texas Legislature can no longer act as lobbyists before state agencies, plenty of lawmakers still manage to lobby local governments. Others find work that critics would classify as lobbying by another name. While it's technically legal, voters have shown uneasiness with their elected officials taking on such work in the past.Full Story
The culture of gift-giving is alive and well in the Texas Capitol, and lobbyists are the chief benefactors. They butter up legislative buddies with sports tickets and golf gear, treat committee staffers to spa treatments and hit up the wedding registries of lawmakers and their relatives. And they never, ever pass up an occasion to deliver flowers.Full Story
With a conflict disclosure system rife with holes, virtually toothless ethics laws often left to the interpretation of the lawmakers they are supposed to regulate, and a Legislature historically unwilling to make itself more transparent, the reality is Texans know exceedingly little about who or what influences the people elected to represent them.Full Story