State Rep. seeks political transparency
Four bills, which would give citizens access to the financial records of candidates and of political action committees (PAC), are awaiting consideration by the Texas House.
State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Arlington, is the author of this expansive transparency and ethics legislative package.
House Bill 413
When Governor Perry filed to run for U.S. President, the Federal Election Commission’s disclosure rules required him to reveal that he was receiving a pension from the State of Texas in addition to his salary as governor.
Turner said his aim was to “prohibit 'double dipping' in our state, the practice which allows elected officials to use state service to trigger state annuity benefits while still holding office." If passed, the new rules would not be retroactive.
Seven house members, including State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Arlington, have signed on in support of the bill. On Feb. 11, it was referred to the Pensions Committee and is awaiting further action.
Turner has since filed three additional ethics-focused pieces of legislation.
"Elected officials owe it to the people they represent to be as open and transparent as possible," said Turner.
House Bill 2190
"The changes I am proposing in House Bill 2190 will help give the public a clearer view of elected officials' and candidates' personal finances.” said Turner.
The bill would require income from pensions and other asset sources to be reported on the Personal Financial Statements (PFS) filed by candidates and elected officials. Additionally, the bill requires that PFS statements be made available online to the general public.
Turner is the author of this legislation and, to date, he has not received the support of other members of the Texas House or Senate.
House Bill 2191
Turner’s House Bill 2191 seeks "to address needed changes to how candidates and political action committees report their finances. Right now, there is a lot of ambiguity in the reporting system," said Turner.
If passed, candidates and PACs would be required to reveal how "cash on hand" is calculated and provide a list of outstanding debts.
HB 2191 would apply equally to state and local PACs.
"Right now," said Turner, "Someone can start a local PAC without having to wait to spend money, as state PACs are required to do. As a result, one or two people start up a fly by night so-called 'SPAC' one day and begin spending money the next, inhibiting the public's ability to see where the money is coming from.
"My legislation simply imposes the same set of rules on local PACs that state PACs currently have."
Turner is the author of this legislation and, to date, has not received the support of other members of the Texas House or Senate.
House Bill 1999
HB 1999 would require local specific-purpose political action committees (SPACs) to follow the same guidelines as general-purpose political action committees (GPACs).
The proposed new rules include filing paperwork and appointing a treasurer at least 60 days before money is received or spent. In addition, SPACs would no longer be able to spend money until they have received contributions from at least ten people.
HB 1999 was referred to the Elections Committee last week. Turner’s bill has yet to receive support from other members of the Texas Legislature.
Requests for comments on this package of legislation were made to Arlington House Representatives Diane Patrick, Bill Zedler, Matt Krause, and Jonathan Stickland. No reply was received.