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U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, promised in November that he would run for attorney general if he could raise $1 million in 10 days. And while he eventually entered the race, claiming he met his goal, a new campaign finance report shows he did not come close.
In fact, he did not even top $1 million in contributions until the final day of the reporting period, at least based on the dates of the contributions reported.
"I'm Louie Gohmert, and it's my honor to let you know that we have reached our initial goal of raising $1 million in order to start a run for Texas attorney general," Gohmert said in a Nov. 23 video.
Gohmert insisted Thursday that he did reach his goal, saying he spent those 10 days securing "both contributions and commitments."
"Getting all of the money in house took more time, but we got it just as we were promised and just as we promised," Gohmert said in a statement.
Gohmert's fundraising haul became public this week, when state candidates filed their campaign finance reports covering the last six months of 2021. In the hotly contested Republican primary race for attorney general, the incumbent, Ken Paxton, and his three challengers, raised over $9 million combined as Paxton was outraised by one of his opponents, Eva Guzman. He still has $7.5 million cash on hand, more than double his closest opponent in that category.
Guzman, a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court, raked in $3.7 million during the latest period, covering July 1 through Dec. 31, and Paxton received $2.8 million, according to reports that were due Tuesday to the Texas Ethics Commission. Another Paxton challenger, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, collected $1.9 million, while Gohmert — who entered the race later than his opponents — reported raising just over $1 million.
Guzman was helped tremendously by support from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, the powerful tort reform group; its allied donors; and other top Texas GOP contributors that have backed her from the beginning. About 70%, at or least $2.6 million, of her haul came from TLR, which gave $600,000, plus five individual givers.
The primary is the most closely watched one on the statewide level as Paxton looks to fend off the three challengers who are assailing his integrity and ability to do the job amid a raft of legal problems. Paxton has been indicted on securities fraud charges since months after he took office in 2015, and he has come under FBI investigation over allegations from former top deputies that he abused his office to help a wealthy contributor. He has denied wrongdoing in both instances.
Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Paxton for reelection — and headlined a December fundraiser for him that brought in over $750,000, according to Paxton's team. The campaign filed his most recent report late, citing technical issues, and said it was still working to disclose all contributions from the period. The campaign said that the totals on the report were correct.
Despite the competitive fundraising among the primary candidates, Paxton still enjoys the largest campaign account balance in the primary. While he has $7.5 million saved up, the next closest opponent is Bush, with $3.2 million.
Gohmert announced on Nov. 9 he would enter the primary if he could raise $1 million in the next 10 days. His report shows he only got roughly $27,000 by Nov. 19. Plus, a $100,000 donation that pushed him over $1 million — from a political action committee called Save Texas Now — did not come in until Dec. 31.
Gohmert didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gohmert's top donors were state Rep. Mayes Middleton, the Wallisville Republican who chairs the Texas Freedom Caucus, and another House Republican, state Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth. Middleton gave Gohmert $300,000 personally, and Krause gave $250,000 out of his campaign account. Krause had been running for attorney general as well but dropped out around the time Gohmert got in. Both Krause and Middleton, who had been Krause's top donor, expressed support for Gohmert at the time.
As for Guzman's donors, the top individuals each gave $500,000. They included Richard Weekley, TLR's senior chair; Harlan Crow, a Dallas real estate developer; and Robert Rowling, a Dallas hotelier.
Paxton's largest contributor over the six-month period that was disclosed was Michael Porter, a leading Texas GOP donor from the Hill Country, who gave $100,000.
Disclosure: Texans for Lawsuit Reform has been a financial supporter 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.