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The Brief: Oct. 21, 2010

With Election Day quickly approaching, money's talking — quietly.

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THE BIG CONVERSATION:

With Election Day quickly approaching, money's talking — quietly.

That's the case in Houston, at least, where effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling — which ended a ban on for-profit and nonprofit corporate spending in politics — are now being felt.

Two groups, the Tea Party-backed King Street Patriots and Renew Houston, have seized on section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, which allows groups to organize as nonprofits if less than half of their money is used for political purposes. Such organizations also aren't required to disclose their donors.

The Texas Democratic Party has recently accused the King Street Patriots of directly advocating for Republican candidates, in violation of the group's nonprofit status. Democrats have also accused the group of voter intimidation.

The emergence of — and controversy surrounding — both organizations reflects the post-Citizens United landscape. According to the Houston Chronicle, such outside organizations across the U.S. have funneled $250 million into this election cycle so far.

And it's not just the groups making the headlines but big-name donors, too, including Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, who, as Politico reported Wednesday, has donated $7 million — one of the biggest individual political contributions of all time, says The Wall Street Journal to a conservative, Karl Rove-backed campaign fund called American Crossroads.

And if you'll recall, that's the same Bob Perry who has served as one of Gov. Rick Perry's biggest donors in recent years (no relation between the two). The Dallas Morning News reported earlier this week that the mega donor recently sent $3.5 million the governor's way.

CULLED:

  • The recent rash of reported gay teen suicides has some Texas lawmakers looking to revive a push for anti-bullying policies in public schools and nondiscrimination legislation aimed at public universities, the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports. The question: whether such efforts stand a chance in Texas, where nondiscrimination policies differ among universities and no public university offers benefits for domestic partners.
  • Bill White's calling for an investigation into Gov. Rick Perry's alleged use of the Teacher Retirement System to aid campaign donors, but prosecutors already decided months ago that they wouldn't pursue similar claims.

"It is my community. We all dream about peace."Marisol Valles García, the 20-year-old female student now heading the police force in Mexico's violent, crime-addled Valley of Juárez

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