This article is Part 3 of a four-part series demonstrating how the money in a lobby sector can impact state politics and legislation. We’ve selected the Green Energy sector due to a resurgence of interest in a behind-the-scenes look at renewables following the 2021 snowstorms, but you can follow the money in any industry of interest that is spending lobbying dollars in Austin.
There are numerous ways money is spent to impact Texas policy. For industries that have a vested interest in operating in Texas, doing what they can to ensure that state legislation remains favorable to their industry often involves a multi-pronged strategy.
The largest — and most overlooked — source of that money comes from lobbying. In our first article in this series, we analyzed the green energy companies that hire lobbyists to persuade Texas lawmakers. Next we showed you the staggering ROI those companies have gotten for their lobbying dollars. Lobbying may be the largest and most direct piece of that strategy, but industries will simultaneously exert financial influence in Austin through other avenues.
This week we turn to another source of money in politics — political action committees (PACs). More than $8 million has been spent by green energy-related PACs on Texas state-level politics since 2015.
There are varying categories of PACs related to the green energy industry that are spending money to impact Texas politics. For clarity, we’ve divided the data into three groups: state-level PACs affiliated with Texas lobbyist clients, federal PACs affiliated with Texas lobbyist clients, and green energy-focused PACs that are not affiliated with a Texas lobbyist client.
Here is a look at these PACs, including how much they have spent in Texas and the top five candidates who have benefited from their support.
|PAC||Lobbyist Client||Amount Raised||Amount Donated||Top Five Texas Recipients (2015-Present)|
|The American Electric Power – Texas – Committee for Responsible Government||American Electric Power||$2,182,611||$870,500||Greg Abbott ($85,000)|
Dan Patrick ($40,000)
Dennis Bonnen ($29,000)
Glenn Hegar ($22,000)
Joe Straus ($20,000)
|Vistra Energy Leaders Political Action Committee of Vistra Corp.||Vistra Energy Corp||$1,795,001||$884,887||Greg Abbott ($65,000)|
Dan Patrick ($35,000)
Kelly Hancock ($24,750)
Joe Straus ($18,000)
Ken Paxton ($16,500)
|Power PAC of Vistra Energy (Dissolved)*||Vistra Energy Corp||$511,538||$187,500||Dan Patrick ($10,000)|
Greg Abbott ($10,000)
Joe Straus ($8,000)
David Porter, Ryan Sitton, Trent Ashby ($5,000)
|Exelon Corporation Political Action Committee||Exelon Corporation||$5,799,459||$5,527,703||Greg Abbott ($65,000)|
George P. Bush ($50,000)
Joe Straus ($50,000)
Kelly Hancock ($50,000)
Eddie Lucio Jr. ($40,000)
|El Paso Electric Company Employee PAC||El Paso Electric Company||$184,922||$188,523||Greg Abbott ($6,500)|
Cesar Blanco ($4,500)
Lina Ortega ($4,000)
Joseph Moody ($4,000)
Mary Edna Gonzalez ($4,000)
|Recurrent Energy Group Inc PAC||Recurrent Energy LLC||$36,200||$16,000||Kelly Hancock ($3,000)|
Brooks Landgraf ($1,000)
Drew Darby ($1,000)
Of the five green energy-focused state PACs listed above, a few candidates appear on multiple lists. Gov. Greg Abbott is the top recipient for four of the five PACs, while Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, former House Speaker Joe Straus, and State Sen. Kelly Hancock also appear on multiple lists.
The four green energy PACs that have contributed to Abbott’s campaign account have given a combined $221,500 since 2015. Meanwhile, Patrick pulled in $75,000 from two of the PACs. Straus and former House Speaker Dennis Bonnen were also among the top five recipients from these PACs, reporting $88,000 and $29,000 in contributions, respectively.
In total, state-level PACs affiliated with green energy lobbyist clients have spent $7,675,113 in donations to the campaign accounts of Texas lawmakers since 2015.
The following PACs are federal, not Texas-based, but they have donated to Texas candidates and political committees. For more information about these and other federal PACs, visit fec.gov.
|PAC||Lobbyist Client||Amount Donated||Top Five Texas Recipients (2015-Present)|
|NextEra Energy Inc PAC Federal||NextEra Energy Resources LLC||$394,000||Dan Patrick ($15,000)|
Dawn Buckingham ($10,500)
Greg Abbott ($10,000)
Glenn Hegar ($7,500)
Ken Paxton ($7,500)
|Xcel Energy PAC||Xcel Energy / Southwestern Public Service Company||$31,652||Dade Phelan ($1,000)|
|EDF Renewable Energy PAC||EDF Renewable Development Inc||$17,000||Charles Perry ($3,000)|
Jim Murphy ($2,500)
Craig Estes ($2,000)
Lyle Larson ($1,500)
Byron Cook, Dustin Burrows, John Smithee, Rafael Anchia, Tracy King ($1,000 each)
|Apex Clean Energy Inc PAC||Apex Clean Energy||$25,000||Four Price ($3,250)|
Drew Darby ($1,750)
Kel Seliger ($750)
Ken King ($750)
Chris Turner ($500)
|The Wind Coalition PAC (Dissolved)*||Wind Coalition||$750||Charles Perry ($250)|
Joe Straus ($250)
Kel Seliger ($250)
|EDP Renewables North America LLC PAC||EDP Renewables North America LLC||$5,500||Four Price ($1,500)|
Kel Seliger ($1,500)
Hugh Shine ($1,000)
Ken King ($1,000)
Drew Darby ($500)
|Pattern Energy Group PAC||Pattern Energy Group 2 LP||$7,500||Four Price ($2,000)|
Dan Patrick ($1,000)
Kel Seliger ($1,000)
Kelly Hancock ($1,000)
Chris Paddie, Eddie Rodriguez, Greg Abbott, Jim Murphy, John Smithee ($500)
|American Wind Energy Association WindPAC Federal||American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)||$63,250||Drew Darby ($5,000)|
Four Price ($5,000)
Dennis Bonnen ($2,500)
Chris Paddie ($2,000)
Eddie Rodriguez ($2,000)
State legislators dominate the list of recipients from the federal PACs, including Reps. Ken King, Chris Paddie, and Four Price. Texas Senators Charles Perry and Kel Seliger also appear on several lists. In total, these federal PACs spent $544,652 in donations to the campaign accounts of Texas lawmakers since 2015.
Other Texas PACs support green energy causes but are not related to a lobbyist client. Here are two of the most prominent ones:
|PAC||Amount Raised||Amount Donated||Top Five Recipient Candidates|
|Dallas Green Alliance||$35,584||$39,338||Carolyn King Arnold ($2,500)|
Hasani Burton ($2,500)
Joe Tave ($2,500)
Mark Clayton ($2,500)
Winnie Cannon ($2,500)
|HR Green Texas PAC||$85,350||$206,677||Jeff Wagner ($15,000)|
Adrian Garcia ($10,000)
Jack Cagle ($10,000)
Tom Ramsey ($10,000)
Sylvester Turner ($8,500)
Together, Dallas Green Alliance and HR Green Texas spent $246,015 to impact Texas lawmakers since 2015.
We used industry standard codes to designate which companies are green energy companies. We did not include companies that primarily work in traditional energy but also have investments in green energy.
Additionally, in order to provide the most accurate information on the industry, we did not include companies that are investors in the green energy industry, but do not primarily operate within the industry. For example, both AT&T and Verizon are large investors in green energy assets and resources, but they do not operate primarily as a green energy company.
Political money comes from several different streams — donations from individuals, donations from PACs, and the largest and most overlooked source of money in politics, money spent to lobby politicians.
At least $8,465,780 million has been spent by green energy-related PACs since 2015. While that number pales in comparison to the more than $70 million spent by green energy companies to lobby Texas lawmakers, the potential impact of those financial resources — which are working toward the same overall goals — is cumulative.
A more comprehensive look at the impact of any sector in the money in Texas politics requires an understanding of how those different streams work together to create a more favorable outcome. Next week we’ll build on that cumulative picture by exploring another avenue for money in politics — money donated to Texas politicians by executives of green energy companies.
Over the course of this series, we’ve tracked many millions of dollars from the green energy industry to Texas politicians since 2015. But while the rise of renewables in Texas makes the sector buzzworthy — this series began in response to an uptick in green energy searches following February’s deadly power outages — allocating resources toward lobbying and PAC contributions is not unique to this sector.
This same analysis could be applied to any industry to get a big picture view of how the money from that sector flows to Texas lawmakers through multiple channels.
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*This PAC was dissolved and is no longer politically active.