Tribpedia: Lobbying

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Interactive: Track Public Education Donors

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.

Interactive: Texas Health Care Lobbying

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.

Visualization: The Lobbyist Revolving Door

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. 

TribWeek: Top Texas News for the Week of 3/4/13

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.

Watchdogs: Ethics Loopholes Obscure Lobby Perks

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.

Charitable Donations With Political Benefits

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.

Inside Intelligence: About That Revolving Door...

Texas Weekly

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.

(l to r) Jim Jackson, Rob Eissler, Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, Vicki Truitt, (second row) Aaron Peña, Chuck Hopson, Burt Solomons, Rick Hardcastle
(l to r) Jim Jackson, Rob Eissler, Mike "Tuffy" Hamilton, Vicki Truitt, (second row) Aaron Peña, Chuck Hopson, Burt Solomons, Rick Hardcastle

Leaving the Legislature, but Not Going Too Far

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.

Former Rep. Bill Siebert, R-San Antonio, had been in office for six years when news reports revealed that he had lobbied the San Antonio City Council for a private firm without having registered as a lobbyist. Siebert blamed the oversight on a miscommunication between his office and City Hall. But the issue dominated his 2000 re-election bid, which he lost.
Former Rep. Bill Siebert, R-San Antonio, had been in office for six years when news reports revealed that he had lobbied the San Antonio City Council for a private firm without having registered as a lobbyist. Siebert blamed the oversight on a miscommunication between his office and City Hall. But the issue dominated his 2000 re-election bid, which he lost.

Despite Reforms, Some Elected Officials Still Lobby

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.

Lobbyists Shower Lawmakers, State Staffers With Gifts

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.

A Part-Time Legislature, but in Whose Interest?

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.