Michael Quinn Sullivan's decision to fight the Ethics Commission at every procedural step has led to something historic — a challenge to the law requiring those who lobby the Legislature to register has now gone through the complete contested case process.
The Ethics Commission's finding that Sullivan should have registered as a lobbyist therefore constitutes "a landmark decision," according to the advocacy group for the Capitol's lobbyists.
In a letter to its members, the Professional Advocacy Association of Texas (PAAT) said the order demonstrates that the "lobby law has some teeth and failure to follow it has consequence. The purpose of the law — to inform the public about who is being paid to influence state policy — apparently has survived this test and compliments its broader impact: to establish a system that helps avoid corruption in government."
This is hardly the end of the story, though. Sullivan's attorney, Joe Nixon, was quick this week to confirm what had been expected — Sullivan will appeal the judgment to a state district court, where the findings by the Ethics Commission will be thrown out.
"The commission," Nixon said, "knows that its ruling will have no permanent effect, and we are excited to be in a court of law where the rules of evidence and procedure will predominate."
PAAT, in its letter to its members, noted that the commission would most likely be represented by the AG's office in any appeal. The Republican nominee for AG, Ken Paxton, is an Empower Texans endorsee who is a favorite of the movement conservatives for his challenge to House Speaker Joe Straus in 2010.
The next round of challenges will easily go into the next year and a new regime at the AG's office. If Paxton is elected (and that seems likely), what will he do?
As PAAT put it, "Think for a while on that one."
Candidates have until Aug. 1 to file, but two early candidates — state Rep. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, and former Bush 43 staffer Jodey Arrington — have already jumped in with both feet.
Perry will formally announce his candidacy on Tuesday at a Lubbock steakhouse. He also announced a high-profile endorsement on Thursday that demonstrates his grassroots conservative bona fides: Steve Hotze's Conservative Republicans of Texas PAC.
“Charles Perry epitomizes the citizen legislator. The taxpayers of his House District know they have a champion in Austin looking out for their interests, and now they should send him to the Texas Senate,” Hotze said in a statement.
Arrington, meanwhile, issued a statement following Perry's proclamation.
"Over the last few weeks, we’ve built a winning, grassroots campaign organization and raised enough money to get our message to every county across the district. People are looking for somebody who will get things done and advance the interests and needs of West Texas. I’m confident that we will be successful,” Arrington said.
Eppie Garza of Wolfforth has also expressed interest in running for the seat, which is up for grabs for the first time since 1996. Other candidates in the mix include Texas Tech regent John Steinmetz and Lubbock City Councilman Todd Klein.
Early voting begins Aug. 25.
State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, garnered the endorsement of the Texas Patriots PAC in the Aug. 5 runoff election for SD-4. He squares off against fellow legislator Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, for the vacant Senate seat.
GOP HD-23 candidate Wayne Faircloth has earned the endorsement of state Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood. Faircloth will face Democrat and former District Judge Susan Criss in the fall for the seat being vacated by Craig Eiland.
Dan Patrick, GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, was endorsed by the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association for the general election.
Move over, Ann Richards. Greg Abbott is the new king of the Alamo Drafthouse PSA.