The first campaign finance reports for the 2020 election cycle are here! These reports include all contributions to, and expenditures by, Texas candidates and Political Action Committees (PACs) from January 1 – June 30, 2019, making them the first complete reports of political spending in Texas for the 2020 election cycle.
255,470 Individual Contributions – Texas candidates and PACs received 255,470 individual contributions during the first half of 2019. Of those contributions, 98 percent (249,582) were for $1,000 or less. Those small-dollar contributions together account for $18,666,098, which is 27 percent of the total given. That’s a lot of political activity for an election that is still over a year away. This high level of political involvement from such a breadth of so-called “small donors” is evidence that Texas really is ground zero in the battle for Texas and national political control.
$69,780,082 in Total Contributions – Texas candidates and PACs raked in almost $70 million so far this year. PACs, which have no restrictions on when they can accept donations, took in $36,100,546 over the course of six months. On the other hand, state law prohibits incumbent politicians from accepting contributions beginning 30 days before the start of the legislative session until 20 days after it ends. The financial floodgates opened for incumbents on June 17, so the remaining $33,679,536 represents only two weeks of donations to candidates.
$49,831,933 in Total Spending – Spending by Texas candidates and PACs during the first six months of this year ran just shy of $50 million. Candidates can spend campaign contributions on their living expenses while in Austin for the legislative session, on campaigning for their next election, and even by sharing their campaign cash with other candidates or PACs.
$1,300,000 from the Top Donors – Mary and Michael Porter gave a total of $1.3 million to Texas candidates and PACs — specifically $1 million to Governor Abbott and $100,000 each to Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, and to their State Senator, Dawn Buckingham. These donations landed the Porters in the number one spot as the biggest individual donors to Texas candidates so far in the 2020 election cycle. While $1.3 million is a lot of money by any objective standard, it represents less than two percent of the total given.
$3,686,075 Most Giving to a PAC – Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), an organization which is, according to their website, dedicated to, “keeping abusive lawsuits from killing jobs and slowing down our economic growth,” took in more money than any other PAC so far this election cycle. This PAC typically supports statewide office holders and moderate-to-liberal Republicans. Their giving is consistent with that pattern so far this cycle with their biggest donations going to Abbott, Patrick and State Rep. Jeff Leach. It’s worth noting that TLR’s haul represents only five percent of the total money given to date.
$3,947,467 by the Biggest Spender – Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen takes the prize for spending the most money so far this cycle at $3,947,467. Of this total, $3 million was put in a new PAC called Texas Leads, which Bonnen has said he will use to help reelect incumbent Republicans.
Want to know how your representative is spending money or who’s supporting them? You can search here — type in any donor, candidate, or PAC name and you can see for yourself!
We’ll continue to dig into these reports and bring you the information and answers you need about the money in Texas politics. We’ll keep you informed about who’s winning the race to raise campaign cash for 2020. Don’t miss the next update.