Republicans Sue Texas Over Campaign Laws

     (CN) – Conservative Republicans claim in court that Texas’ election laws are so vague they effectively ban corporations from giving anything to candidates, PACs or political parties.
     The Texas Association of Business and the Conservative Republicans of Texas sued David Reisman, the executive director of the Texas Ethics Commission, in Austin Federal Court.
     The groups claim parts of the Texas Election Code are “facially unconstitutional” under the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United.
     The Texas Association of Business is based in Austin, the Conservative Republicans in Houston.
     “TAB represents companies from the largest multinational corporations to small businesses in nearly every community of Texas,” the complaint states. “TAB’s corporate members are prohibited, under Texas Election Code, Sections 253.094 and 253.104, from supporting, in-kind or financially, directly or indirectly, any candidate for elective office or any political committee or political party that supports or opposes a candidate. TAB has an interest in ensuring that its corporate members are not unconstitutionally prohibited from making their voice heard by expressing support for or against political candidates.”
     The plaintiffs claim the constitutional problem with the state’s “corporate prohibition scheme” arises from the Election Code’s expansive definitions, including “contribution,” “expenditure,” “political contribution,” and “political expenditure.” They say the Election Code makes no distinction between campaign contributions and expenditures, and that any direct or indirect corporate in-kind or financial support for or against a candidate for office is prohibited.
     “Definitionally, because CRT is dedicated to supporting or opposing candidates for elective office, a corporation’s in-kind or financial support for its operations are necessarily made with intent to – at the very least, indirectly – support or oppose a candidate for elective office,” the complaint states. “Thus CRT is prohibited from accepting that in-kind or financial support from Texas corporations.”
     The plaintiffs say the code bans political contributions, except for some internal corporate elections and noncandidate in-kind or financial support, and contributions to political committees that support or oppose measures, not candidates.
     “If a corporation gives any in-kind or financial support to a political committee that supports or opposes a candidate, the corporation has made an unlawful ‘political contribution,’ which is a third-degree felony,” the complaint states.
     The plaintiffs say this is in effect an “outright ban” on corporations expressing “symbolic support for or opposition to” a candidate.
     They seek declaratory judgment that the objectionable parts of the Texas Election Code violate the First and 14th Amendments.
     They are represented by Craig Enoch, with Enoch Kever, of Austin.

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