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TW Politics Wrap: Auto Dealers Defend Franchise Law

Also, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility's suit against Murphy Turner & Associates wraps up with an apology.

A Tesla Model S. The California-based electric automaker had considered Texas for its $5 billion lithium-ion battery facto...

Responding to increased scrutiny of the state’s motor vehicle franchise laws instigated by Tesla Motors, the Texas Automobile Dealers Association has let lawmakers know it would not look favorably on carving out an exemption for the electric carmaker.

"We believe this sets a bad precedent for future economic development efforts by linking them to special interest changes in law," TADA Chairman Rick Cavender wrote in a letter to lawmakers last week.

The issue cropped up with renewed urgency last week after Gov. Rick Perry tied efforts to land Tesla’s $5 billion battery plant to enhanced economic development in the state. Perry also suggested that the franchise law should be looked at again, although his office later said he wouldn’t call a special session on the topic.

Cavender counters that Tesla doesn’t need any further exemptions from the law to do business in Texas as it currently does. Tesla, though, is chafing at restrictions on giving test drives or quoting prices for customers who visit the company’s gallery stores.

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A long-running suit filed by the conservative advocacy group Texans for Fiscal Responsibility against a now defunct political consulting firm was wrapped up late last week with an apology and the payment of an undisclosed sum.

TFR took legal action over campaign mailings created by Murphy Turner & Associates for a PAC called Texans for Fiscal Accountability during the 2012 elections.

The PAC was created in late 2011 by the wife of Murphy Turner principal Chris Turner and her brother.

In a letter that accompanied the settlement of the suit, the owners of Murphy Turner acknowledged the name of the PAC was “confusingly similar” to TFR.

Murphy Turner effectively split up at the end of 2012. With this litigation now finalized, the firm will close for good.

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Candidates in the upcoming party runoffs continue to tout support from foes vanquished in the first round of elections:

•    Becky Berger, who finished third in the GOP contest for railroad commissioner, has endorsed Ryan Sitton in his race against Wayne Christian.

•    Joe Cotten, who finished fourth in the GOP contest for agriculture commissioner, has endorsed Tommy Merritt, who squares off against Sid Miller in next month’s runoff.

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