Thanks to a moratorium on fundraising while the Texas Legislature is in session, most state officeholders only had two weeks in June to raise campaign funds in the first half of this year. That didn't stop them from reporting millions of dollars raised in their semiannual financial reports.
The Texas Tribune reviewed those reports, which are made public by the Texas Ethics Commission. Here's how they break down.
1. How much was raised from January to June?
In total, state officeholders and political action committees raised $80.3 million in the first six months of 2019. About $35.7 million, or 44% of that, was brought in between June 17, when the moratorium on contributions for most officeholders was lifted, and June 30. Before then money was raised by judges, general political action committees and people who are not current officeholders and were not subject to the ban. A whopping $10.4 million dollars was raised on June 28 alone.
Most of the money came from individual donors, who can make unlimited contributions and accounted for about 70% (or about $56.6 million) of the total raised this cycle. Only about 30% (or about $23.7 million) of money raised came from entities like political action committees.
2. Who were the top fundraisers?
PACs that raise money for a specific candidate were subject to the moratorium — but that didn’t stop some of them from making our list of the top 10 fundraisers. And some of the biggest donations are actually transfers between PACs. Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, a Republican, gave $3 million to his own Texas Leads PAC, and former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, also a Republican, started his Texas Forever Forward PAC with a $2.5 million donation from his campaign account.
Nine out of 10 of the top fundraisers support conservative-leaning or Republican candidates or groups. The notable exception is ActBlue Texas, which is a conduit for progressive groups to raise money.
3. How massive was Abbott’s haul?
Gov. Greg Abbott’s PAC raised $12.1 million — a gigantic haul that makes up about 15% of all the money raised. That means that $1 out of every $7 raised in Texas this spring went to the Republican governor. Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, a Republican, was the officeholder with the second-biggest haul at $3 million.
Abbott’s numbers set a record high for his post-session fundraising. After the 2017 session, he brought in almost $2 million more than in 2015.
4. Who were the top contributors?
Michael and Mary Porter, cattle ranch owners from Doss, were the biggest contributors thanks to a $1 million donation to Texans for Greg Abbott. Javaid Anwar, the president of Midland Energy, also gave Abbott $1 million. The other top donors are wealthy heads of investment groups. Two executives from Williams Brothers Construction were on the list.
The biggest contributions by entities were made to start new PACs. Bonnen and Straus both moved cash from their existing war chests to start new PACs.
Three noncampaign PACs all made big donations: Ryan Texas PAC, which is associated with a tax services consulting firm founded by Brint Ryan; Friedkin's Gulf States Toyota Inc. PAC and the Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC.
5. How much was spent?
In the first half of 2019, candidates and PACs reported spending $79.9 million.
The biggest expenditures for most campaigns were investments in stocks and treasury bills, which for some, like Abbott, were in the millions. About $7.9 million of the $9.1 million spent by the Texas Association of Realtors PAC went toward treasury bills and investments. The exceptions were Bonnen and Straus, who spent most of their money starting new PACs.
Two Democratic or progressive groups made the list of the top 10 spenders. ActBlue Texas gave $154,131 to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Annie’s List, which supports progressive women in Texas, spent big on events.
Disclosure: Javaid Anwar, Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the Texas Association of Realtors, Annie's List, James Doug Pitcock, Drayton McLane, the McLane Group, Robert Rowling, Ryan LLC, Gulf States Toyota, the Texas Medical Association and Williams Brothers Construction have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.