Headquartered along the Rio Grande in McAllen, Texas, the Border Health PAC has serious sway with lawmakers in Austin. With donations of $2,545,960 and expenditures of $2,554,042, Border Health PAC (BHPAC) is one of the “heavy-hitters” in the Texas political scene, ranking 8th for donations among Texas political PACs in the last election cycle. Border Health’s donors are a generous bunch, mostly comprised of doctors; their average donation topped out at more than $5,400.
Border Health’s stated purpose is to promote the issues of the medical profession along Texas’ section of the U.S. – Mexico border, and to support and elect like-minded candidates. Although Border Health has not recently stated any specific policy goals, their political donations loudly suggest that BHPAC exists to support not only issues related to the medical profession and healthcare, but also to support Democrats and moderate-to-liberal Republicans.
1.Big Money to the Big Players
Like many state PACs, Border Health PAC clearly wishes to stay in the good graces of those in power. BHPAC gave a whopping quarter-of-a-million dollars each to Governor Greg Abbott and to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. They also gave significant money to those who could impact medical-related legislation. In the Texas House, BHPAC gave $50,000 to Speaker Joe Straus, $20,000 to State Representative Todd Hunter, Chairman of the all-powerful Calendars Committee, $10,000 to State Representative Four Price who chairs the Public Health Committee and who co-chairs the Health and Human Services Oversight Committee. In the Texas Senate, BHPAC again spent big with those who could potentially advance their cause. On the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, BHPAC gave $25,000 to State Senator Charles Schwertner who chairs the committee, $20,000 to State Senator Carlos Uresti who is vice-chair, and $35,000 to State Senator Dawn Buckingham, a surgeon who sits on this committee.
2. Donating Heavily to Democrats
When you look beyond the “grease the wheels” spending to statewide politicians and others holding power positions, BHPAC’s giving is primarily to Democrats. For example, they gave $100,000 each to Democrat State Senators Juan Hinojosa and Eddie Lucio, Jr., $40,000 to Democrat State Representative Bobby Guerra, $25,000 to Democrat State Representative Garnet Coleman, and $25,000 to Democrat State Senator John Whitmire.
3. “All Politics is Local”
While BorderHealth PAC is certainly interested in and donates to candidates across the state of Texas, they also pay close attention to their own backyard, particularly Hidalgo County, where McAllen is located. BHPAC donated $25,000 to Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia and made a notably large donation to a county commissioner, $25,000 to A.C. Cuellar.
Most Interesting Donation:
An overview of Border Health PAC’s giving shows their support for Texas power players, moderate-to-liberal Republicans, and Democrats. But one donation stands out like the proverbial sore thumb: $75,000 to notoriously conservative Attorney General Ken Paxton. As Attorney General, Paxton is the “enforcer” of the Republican agenda and spends his days primarily suing the federal government when he believes Washington liberalism is invading Texas. Why would a liberal-leaning PAC like Border Health lavish Gen. Paxton with such largesse? Maybe BHPAC believes Paxton’s political future is bright and wishes to stay on his good side. Time, and money, will tell.
Our Capitol Crowd series outlines and highlights the politicians, advocacy groups, and donors that have the biggest impact during the 140-day legislative session. Check back throughout the session for updates.