Number of the Week


Primary elections for both chambers of the Texas legislature took place on March 1, 2022. See results in the top five districts for both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives here.


New Texas lobbyist data is now available on Transparency USA, featuring as much as $859,861,167 in compensation from private and taxpayer-funded lobbyist clients. Explore all reported lobbyist n compensation between 1/1/21 – 12/31/21. For a reminder of how lobbyists report data ––including why prospective compensation is listed with a maximum and minimum range instead of an exact figure–– start here.


According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, the three Texas races with the greatest contributions — specifically the battles to be the next Texas Governor, Attorney General, and Lieutenant Governor —  account for 56 percent of all donations to Texas candidates in the 2022 cycle so far. Explore those races or compare the money in every election using Transparency USA’s 2022 Election Races tool.

The pre-primary reports to the TEC reflect all contributions and expenditures through February 19, 2022, eight days before the Texas primaries. The next comprehensive campaign finance reports are due in July. New lobbyist reports and runoff reports will be available in April and May. Subscribe to be alerted when new data is live for Texas on Transparency USA. 


While the Texas Railroad Commission holds a powerful position in Texas politics, including the regulation of the state’s energy industry, a commissioner’s seat on the ballot can often slip through the campaign season with relatively little fanfare. 

Not this year. 

Between the tragic death of Marvin Summers, the clickbait video shared by Sarah Stogner, and pay-to-play allegations against incumbent Wayne Christian, next week’s Republican primary is generating an unusual amount of public interest.

According to most recently-available TEC reports, which includes campaign finance details through January 20, 2022, candidates in the Texas Railroad Commission race have received a total of $709,359 from donors and lenders. On Transparency USA, you can explore every candidate transaction, or look at a broad overview of this – and every other – Texas election.

Explore campaign finance details ahead of the March 1 primary here.


It’s rare to find a policy position where both Democrats and Republicans agree, but both party platforms call for eliminating corporate welfare. A step was taken in that direction last year when Texas lawmakers allowed Section 313 of the Texas Tax Code to expire at the end of 2022. Section 313 provides tax relief, primarily to manufacturing and green energy companies, as an incentive to do business in Texas. 

According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, the 509 agreements that have been made under Chapter 313 provisions have reduced tax revenue by $10.8 billion. Proponents of the program argue that it’s needed not only to incentivize businesses in Texas, but also to promote green energy policies. Opponents decry the program as wasteful and as the government picking winners and losers. In a speech last week to the Texas Oil and Gas Producers Ad Valorem Tax Conference, Republican Speaker of the House Dade Phelan suggested lawmakers would work to bring back the controversial program in the next legislative session.


In Texas, filers of campaign finance reports to the Texas Ethics Commission are not required to include itemized detail (donor name, employer, amount, and date) for donations under a certain threshold. Currently, that threshold is $90. Those small donations are still included in the contribution total, but filers are allowed to report all donations under $90 as subtotal, rather than an itemized list. 

There’s a (fairly recent) wrinkle to this rule that seems to have tripped up the campaign team of more than one Texas candidate this cycle. Since 2019, the simple lump sum reporting option does not apply to donations made online. (See the exact verbiage on page 14 of this TEC document). Online donations represent a growing percentage of small-dollar contributions, and those donations must be itemized in TEC reports to include the donors name, address, and date of transaction.

Candidates like Ken Paxton and Beto O’Rourke have made headlines since the initial January campaign finance data was released for not correctly itemizing transaction details for “contributions made electronically.” Whatever the reason for reporting errors, amendments to Texas campaign finance reports are fairly common. The TEC rules are frequently updated between cycles, leaving plenty of room for error. Each cycle, the TEC urges filers to submit early and ask for help to ensure all documents are filed correctly.


According to the newest campaign finance reports, a total of $69,250,577 has been donated to candidates in the race for Texas governor so far this cycle.

The majority of that money – over $49 million – went to Gov. Greg Abbott. Why is Abbott’s campaign account so much higher than the rest? This election cycle began on January 1, 2021, and that total includes donations to the governor’s campaign account prior to announcing his intent to run.

The benefits of incumbency are many, including name recognition, early momentum behind a declaration of candidacy, and an open candidate PAC with full coffers long before additional candidates join the fray.

See the donation timelines and individual transaction details for all 2022 candidates. These numbers include all campaign finance data from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021. Subscribe to get the latest reports as soon as they are available.


There are 45 days until the March 1, 2022 primary elections in Texas. On Transparency USA, you can track the money in each state-level race through every stage of the election process, from candidacy declarations to final results. As each new campaign finance report from the TEC becomes available, we update candidate data so you can easily compare contributions, loans and expenditures between all candidates, along with the results of their campaign efforts.

Explore the early activity in every Texas election here, or start with closely-watched contests like the race for governor or attorney general. Newly-declared candidates and changes of status are updated as we receive verified information from Ballotpedia.


According to the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC), over 40 percent of all filers wait until the last possible day to file their campaign finance reports.

In Texas, the next deadline for lawmakers, candidates and PACs to file campaign finance reports is January 18, 2022. This report will cover all semiannual donations and expenditures between July 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021. The TEC began accepting reports on January 1, 2022, urging filers not to wait until the last minute in order to avoid technical difficulties, call volume issues, and incorrect filing.

Want to see the new semiannual data as soon as it is available? Subscribe to get the update as soon as the numbers are live on TUSA.


Sometimes it’s nice to remember that candidates and their campaign staff are regular people, not just their public personas and the platforms they represent. One of our favorite ways to catch a glimpse of that humanity in the campaign finance data is to take a peek at the smallest expenditures reported in Texas this year. There, you’ll find things like Dan Patrick grabbing an $8 bite at Uncle Julio’s, Chase West’s campaign paying $12.87 for a Getty Images subscription, Ben Hardin paying the Girl Scouts $32.50 (cookies, maybe?!), and lots of people paying for gas and parking.

Happy holidays to our readers — those who serve in office and those whom they serve — from the Transparency USA team.


NEW Texas campaign finance reports show that more than half of all 2021 donations ($93,327,767.81) were made to non-candidate PACs, with Texans for Lawsuit Reform, ActBlue Texas, and Texas Realtors topping the list. See who is giving the largest donations to these entities, and what they are spending money on, here.


In 2022, Transparency USA will provide more than 70 timely updates to our database that coincide with state-level reporting deadlines across the 10 states we serve. We’ll bring you data that is easier to navigate than what you’ll find on other sites, including the state reporting agency. But it’s not just easier, it’s better. More accurate and more reliable. Our data team painstakingly combs through every record to remove duplicates, link accounts where a spelling error might have miscategorized them, and make the data easy to search by date.

Click “Learn More” on any state’s Political Profile to see every report we plan to add in 2022.


Among the new and amended rules proposed by the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) in September is the addition of new language regulating cryptocurrency contributions in campaign finance. If adopted, rule 22.37 would allow cryptocurrency to be accepted by campaign accounts as in-kind contributions. Expenditures could not be made using cryptocurrency under the proposed rule, but cryptocurrency could be sold and the proceeds then used for campaign expenditures. The full text of this and all other proposed amendments to TEC regulations — including changes to the minimum reporting threshold across many categories — are here. The next TEC meeting is December 8-9, 2021.


Beto O’Rourke declared his intent to run for Texas governor, confirming months of speculation that he would throw his hat in the ring for Texas’s top office in 2022. His third run for office in three election cycles, O’Rourke’s announcement officially launches what is expected to be another high profile campaign, with a flood of donations from nationwide Democratic supporters to back his efforts. Join us to be alerted when O’Rourke’s first campaign finance reports of the 2022 gubernatorial race become available.


A growing number of Texas lawmakers will not be seeking reelection in 2022. So far, 20 open seats in the Texas legislature will appear on ballots next year. Sixteen of those seats are in the Texas House and four are in the Texas Senate, totaling 15 Republicans and five Democrats. Legislators across Texas are using shifting district boundary lines as an opportunity to make their own changes, either seeking higher office or stepping out of civil service. The vacancies will be closely-watched, offering pivotal races in the attempt to flip party alignment within new district boundaries. Follow the money in these races as campaign finance data becomes available.


In 118 days, Texans will vote in the next primary elections. The date for the 2022 primaries has been a question mark dangling over the campaign strategies of Texas candidates, due to the much-delayed availability of U.S. Census data and subsequent redistricting. Now that the new legislative districts have been signed into law, the date for the Texas primary has been set for March 1, 2022. If any of the lawsuits already filed to contest the new maps are successful, however, the date could conceivably change before spring.


On Monday, Governor Greg Abbott signed 234 new legislative districts into law — 38 Congressional districts, 150 House districts, 31 Senate districts, and 15 State Board of Education districts. Redistricting occurs once every 10 years based on census data.


So far in the 2022 election cycle, Texas candidates have received nearly $7 million in loans to their campaigns. Loans are an attractive option for would-be political donors. The lender may forgive the loan if a candidate loses (making it function as an ad-hoc donation) or fully recoup the investment from the burgeoning campaign account of an elected office holder (should the candidate win).


Thirteen members of the Texas House and two members of the Texas Senate have already announced their intention to retire or to seek higher office, creating 15 open seats in the Texas legislature with redistricting underway ahead of the 2022 elections. See all 15 here.


So far this election cycle our list of top donors is populated with names familiar to anyone following Texas politics — Ross Perot, Jr., Dick Weekley, and Mary and Michael Porter, to name a few. 

But long-time Texas followers will notice a new name topping the list with $6.6 million in donations: Aggregated Unitemized Contributions (AUC). While we’ve already been displaying AUC for other states on Transparency USA, it’s a new feature on our Texas page. 

AUC is not a single entity, but instead represents the total of all donations of $90 or less (per candidate, per reporting period). Candidates and PACs only have to report detailed information (name, address, date, occupation, etc.) for amounts above the $90 threshold in Texas. 

This feature allows readers to quickly quantify and compare the cumulative value of small-dollar donations to candidates and PACs.


Over a week into the third special session of the Texas legislature, the packed schedule will address five agenda items set by Governor Greg Abbott earlier this month:

  1. Redistricting
  2. Vaccine mandates
  3. COVID-19 relief spending
  4. Rules on transgender youth sports
  5. Rules on tethering dogs

Redrawing boundary lines — and placing the two congressional seats that new census data has added to Texas — is the top priority for the session. Political headlines indicate that the addition of hot button topics like transgender sports and reopening an animal abuse bill Abbott previously vetoed are likely intended to rally conservative support ahead of a 2022 bid for reelection.


Bringing in more than $16 million, the political consulting firm Murphy Nasica was the top recipient of campaign funds in the 2020 election cycle (excluding bank transfers). They continue to sit near the top of the payee charts for the 2022 cycle as well. But Murphy Nasica is not alone — 19 of the top 25 payees in Texas in 2020 were consultants and media firms.

One of the most common questions we get at Transparency USA is “Where did the candidate spend their campaign donations?” 

While candidates are usually required to report expenditures from their campaign account, a large check written to a consultant can be a bit of a black box. Candidates hire political consultants to manage every aspect of their campaigns from fundraising to social media to polling and TV ads. Consultants provide some of these services “in-house,” while hiring third parties to provide other campaign-related tasks. Because the expenses can be reported in lump sums and third party expenses are often not reported, it can be difficult to determine exactly which services a candidate utilized and how much those actually cost. 


The campaign finance reports filed by members of the Texas Legislature on September 7 offer our first look at donations received during the first special session. The session is perhaps most notable for the quorum-breaking flight of Texas Democrats to block the passage of GOP-backed voting legislation. Over 25 percent of the $491,000 raised by those Democrats during this time period came from out-of-state supporters. In contrast, Republican legislators received less than one percent of their $553,542 reported donations from outside of Texas. Despite Democratic efforts, SB1 passed in early September.


Since the regular Texas legislative session officially ended on May 31, the legislature has continued to address dangling Republican priorities across two special sessions. Those efforts encompassed more than 60 additional days in session and two strategic quorum breaks by the Democrats. And they’re not done. There will be at least three special sessions in 2021, with the upcoming one focused on redrawing Texas political boundaries for the next 10 years.


In Texas, where the highest positions in statewide government are held by Republican candidates, five prominent officeholders accounted for 57 percent of all state-level Republican fundraising between January 1, 2021, and June 30, 2021. By contrast, donations to the top five Democratic candidates represented just two percent of all Democratic campaign donations.

In the ongoing conversation about how money and power are enmeshed, parsing out donations made during non-election years offers an interesting glimpse into just how much money flows to those already in power.


According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, the 2022-2023 Texas budget will have a $7.85 billion surplus. This surplus comes in contrast to Comptroller Hager’s January prediction of a COVID-related shortfall. The Texas Public Policy Foundation has proposed a plan (similar to House Bill 122) which would use the surplus to begin buying down Texans’ property taxes.


According to the recently released U.S. Census data, the population of Texas is 29,145,505A 16 percent increase from the number reported in the 2010 census, legislators now have the information needed to begin the much-delayed task of redrawing district boundaries in Texas. Contentious even under more normal circumstances, the redistricting process faces the additional challenge of the Texas legislature’s ongoing failure to meet quorum.


Over 2,100 state legislature employees will be impacted by Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to veto the portion of the state budget that funds the Texas legislature. The governor’s executive action came in response to the Democratic walkout in May, and was upheld by the Texas Supreme Court this week. Salaries and benefits for those 2,100 employees will continue through the end of September thanks to an extension granted by state officials last Friday.


With a moratorium on fundraising during the 87th Texas Legislative Session, many campaign accounts could not begin accepting contributions until June 21, 2021. In the ten days before the end of the reporting period, the post-session donation frenzy began. According to the TEC’s semiannual data, candidates and PACs received over $106.4 million in contributions during the first half of 2021. Explore transaction details for Texas candidates, PACs, donors and payees here.


With two seasoned politicians running against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the first semiannual reports for the 2022 election cycle offer our first glimpse at how well his campaign is fending off the challengers. The TEC reports reveal that former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush have collectively drawn away 31 donors who previously supported Paxton between 2015 and 2020. While Paxton is impressively well-funded for the campaign trail ahead, victory appears anything but assured for the incumbent attorney general.


The early numbers are in for the Texas gubernatorial race. Over $25 million in total contributions poured in to Gov. Abbott and his primary challengers. Nearly $21 million of those contributions went to the governor’s campaign account, with Don Huffines leading Chad Prather and Paul Belew in reported donations. Beyond direct contributions, loans are playing a significant role in filling Huffines’ war chest to challenge Abbott.

Early momentum favors the incumbent, but an anticipated primary election delay may give the challengers — including former Republican Party of Texas chairman Allen West — time to gain additional support.


Nearly 60 Democratic members of the Texas House left the Lone Star State, breaking quorum to avoid a vote on Republicans’ controversial election integrity bill. The dramatically-reported exodus to Washington, D.C.–complete with photos of private jets and calls for arrest by Governor Abbott–is reportedly still costing taxpayers while legislation is stalled. Texas House Rep. Jared Patterson (HD 106, Frisco) estimates that the walkout is costing taxpayers at least $43,000 for each day the legislature is at a standstill.

$18.7 Million

Governor Abbott’s campaign announced it raised more $18.7 million in the last 10 days of June, clearly a financial flex in light of his growing field of primary challengers. Those challengers, including former State Senator Don Huffines, former Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West, and humorist Chad Prather, have not released any fundraising numbers yet, but semiannual reports are due July 15th. We’ll bring you a complete analysis of the money in the governor’s race as soon as it’s available.


While the United States is celebrating 245 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence this weekend, the Texas Ethics Commission is only 30 years old. Created in 1991 to “provide guidance on various public ethics laws” in Texas, both the current reporting standards in the Lone Star State and the agency that oversees them are relatively recent additions to the legislative process. The way constituents engage with their elected leaders and the limitations placed on that relationship continue to evolve.


A law to ban private donations to local election agencies goes into effect September 1, 2021. Just before Gov. Abbott signed the bill, Harris County Commissioners voted to accept a $1 million private donation from Houston Endowment. Opponents of the practice — made most famous by Mark Zuckerberg’s $36 million in donations to blue Texas counties — believe that it allows private individuals to circumvent state voting laws and effectively buy elections. Proponents say it’s the right of private citizens to donate where they believe they can have the most impact. They argue that the money will benefit underserved communities by increasing access to voting.


Governor Abbott has indicated that he will call the legislature back to Austin for at least two special sessions (additional 30 day increments for lawmakers to complete unfinished business). In the first session, likely to be late summer, lawmakers will be tasked with election integrity, bail reform, and possibly other issues. In the second session, likely to be October, they will work on redrawing Texas legislative districts and spending federal COVID-19 funds. Unlike the regular session, there is no moratorium on donations during a special session. Transparency USA will be keeping a close eye on the money flowing from donors and lobbyists during these special sessions.


The 2022 election cycle is already heating up. As of this week, four Texas statewide officials have either resigned or have drawn primary challengers. Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman have each resigned to seek higher office, leaving an open seat to fill. Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton will face challengers from their own party. The first campaign finance reports will be available mid-July. Join us as we keep you informed in these high-profile races.


The Texas Legislature just passed the biennial state budget, which clocks in at a whopping $248.6 billion. To put that number into perspective, it breaks down to $355 every month for every man, woman, and child in the state of Texas. For a family of four, it equals $1420 each month. The cost per person, which does not include federal or local spending, is far larger if only tax-paying adults are counted.


The 87th Texas Legislative Session adjourns on May 31, 2021. In the final stretch, take a look at Ballotpedia’s comprehensive summary of the legislature’s makeup and what Texas lawmakers have accomplished this year. Transparency USA is proud to partner with Ballotpedia to provide accurate data from the money in state politics.

The first day that candidates and PACs may begin accepting donations again is June 21, 2021. With a special session on the horizon to address issues like redistricting, tracking the donation sources of prominent committee members could be particularly revealing.


So far this year, nearly $75 million has already been spent to hire taxpayer-funded lobbyists, despite a recent poll showing 86 percent of Texans oppose the practice. Texas Senate Bill 10, initially written to curtail the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying, has been revised in the House, and the new version turns the bill on its head. Under the new version, lawyers would be allowed to lobby without limits and without reporting it.


With the addition of our tenth state, Transparency USA now serves nearly 38 percent of the total U.S. population. Residents of some of the most critical states in American politics — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin — now have direct access to the money in their state politics. Search any candidate, donor or PAC, and easily navigate between current and previous election cycles.


During the 2020 election cycle, Facebook received $2,226,458 from the campaign accounts of Texas candidates and PACs. Lone Star Votes and Texas Freedom Network spent the most over the two-year period, while the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and Progress Texas had the largest single payments to the social media giant. For the 2022 cycle so far, Facebook has already received $118,278, with the Save Austin Now PAC accounting for over $85,000.


The Las Vegas Sands Corporation is currently number two on the list of lobbyist clients in Texas. The casino company, led by Sheldon Adelson until his death earlier this year, sold its iconic Vegas resort and has stated that the organization will focus its primary efforts in Asia. 

Still, Las Vegas Sands has contracted Texas lobbyists for as much as $6,228,549 so far this year to advocate in Austin. By comparison, only $515,000-$970,000 was spent during the 2020 cycle, and no lobbying activity was reported in Texas for the 2018 cycle.

The heavy influx of lobbying money coincides with a bill, backed by the casino giant, to legalize gambling at casinos in Texas. Currently, HJR133 is left pending in the State Affairs committee.

There are five weeks left in the legislative session. What started as a slow session marked by recesses and pandemic-related precaution is beginning to adopt the frenetic pace typical of the tail end of the lawmaking process. Even with redistricting pushed off until the fall and HB 1600 attempting to delay sunset bills until 2023, legislators still need to button up almost every other major issue headlining this session. If a bill has not been passed out of its assigned committee in the next week or two, its chances of becoming law are slim to none.


The latest data from the money in Texas lobbying is now available. For the 2022 cycle so far, Texas lobbyists reported contracts for up to $458,842,350, with taxpayer-funded clients accounting for around 16 percent of the total. Explore the latest numbers, including the top lobbyists and clients of 2021, now.


Transparency USA is expanding to our 10th state: Virginia. Considered one of the most prominent battleground states of 2021, we’re proud to offer Virginians the same easy access to the money in state politics that our Texas audience has relied on for the last five years. As our brand — which began as Transparency Texas — continues to grow, we wanted to say thank you for your trust and support. Tell anyone you know who cares about Virginia politics: we’re coming your way this month!


Bills have been filed in the Texas House (HB2283) and Senate (SB7) to prevent or limit private citizens from giving money to local election agencies. These bills are a response, in part, to the $36 million given by Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook, to Texas election agencies to provide PPE equipment, boost mail-in ballots, and encourage drive-through voting, among other strategies designed to increase voter turnout. The money went primarily to blue counties, with Dallas and Houston counties receiving the largest sums, $15 million and $9.6 million respectively. The controversial Senate bill passed this week with an overnight vote after lengthy deliberation.


This week marked the halfway point of the 87th Texas Legislative Session. After an unusually slow start due to COVID and the Snowmageddon delays, the session is now finally heating up. Hot topics are election integrity, electrical grid reliability and, most recently, protection of gun ownership. The first pieces of legislation have already passed from one chamber to the other, but most will continue to be debated in committee over the coming weeks.


In-district support accounted for as little as 5.43 percent of Dustin Burrows’ campaign finance contributions during the 2020 election cycle. It’s not unusual for long-serving legislators and powerful committee chairmen to be funded much more heavily by Austin-based PACs than by their own constituents.


The 2022 Election Cycle is now live on Transparency USA. This data range includes the money in Texas politics from January 1, 2021 — December 31, 2022. While there’s nothing reported for campaign finance yet for this cycle, there’s plenty to explore in Texas lobbying. With up to $435 million already reported in prospective compensation for 2021, see who’s employing the top lobbyists in Texas during the 87th Legislative Session.


The For The People Act, known as H.R. 1 in the U.S. House of Representatives and S. 1 in the U.S. Senate, is a bill that seeks to change current campaign finance laws, among other election reform goals. First introduced in 2019, the Democratic bill passed in the House but failed to be presented for a vote in the Senate. In 2021, with a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, the For The People Act has a better chance of becoming U.S. law.


Nine months after its original due date, delivery of detailed U.S. census data is now delayed until September 2021. Ahead of possible complications for the 2022 elections, the Texas Legislature will likely convene for a special session in the fall to address the critical, once-a-decade redistricting process.


According to TEC records for the 2020 election, Cafe Del Rio was paid a grand total of $2.80 with donor dollars, making it the smallest payee of the entire cycle. 


Although Texas Governor Greg Abbott was not on the ballot this election cycle, 26 individuals and PACs gave a quarter million dollars or more (topping out at $1.7 million) to his campaign account in the last two years.


This week Governor Abbott announced five emergency items for the Texas Legislature to address, including expanding broadband access, restricting the ability of cities to defund the police, reforming bail procedures, increasing election integrity, and providing civil liability protection to businesses for COVID-related lawsuits.Texas lawmakers are generally prohibited from passing legislation during the first 60 days of their session, but emergency items are an exception.


So far, more than 2000 bills have been filed in the Texas House (1602 and counting) and the Texas Senate (533 and counting) for the 87th Texas Legislative Session. Today, both the House and Senate adjourned for two weeks, marking the second time the legislature has adjourned since the session began January 12. They are set to reconvene February 12.


Contributions to Dade Phelan skyrocketed from $335,648 to $4,822,941 in the final two months of 2020. The 1,337 percent increase in donations came following his November announcement of support to become the next Speaker of the Texas House — further proof that money follows power.


Almost $653.6 million was spent lobbying Texas lawmakers during the 2020 election cycle. Private lobbying clients accounted for 85 percent of that total, with taxpayer-funded entities making up the other 15 percent. 

(Lobbyists are only required to report prospective income in ranges to the TEC. See how we share those numbers for maximum transparency here.)


Texas elections are not over. There are 14 days until the runoff election for Texas Senate District 30. This race features political newcomer Shelley Luther, who became known for opening her salon in defiance of Governor Abbott’s lockdown orders. Not surprisingly, Abbott recently endorsed Luther’s opponent, long-time Texas House Rep. Drew Springer.


Sheldon Adelson, the chairman, CEO, and majority shareholder of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, landed among the top ten donors in Texas this election cycle, with a $2.5 million donation to the Republican State Leadership Committee PAC. Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, also contributed $2 million to the PAC. Political observers suspect the Adelsons may be greasing the wheels with lawmakers to legalize casinos in Texas.


It still pays to be a big spender in Texas politics. In the 2020 General Election, 91 percent of winning candidates for the Texas State Legislature reported the highest expenditures in their race.


Despite tens of millions of dollars spent in the attempt to flip the Texas House to Democratic control, there was zero change to the balance of power. Texas House Rep. Sarah Davis (HD 134), ranked as the most liberal member of the Republican caucus, lost her seat to Democrat Ann Johnson. In the other column, former Texas House Rep. Mike Schofield, a Republican, won the seat back from Democrat Gina Calanni (HD 132).


The largest donor in Texas political giving is Charles C. Butt, Chairman and CEO of the H-E-B grocery store chain. Butt has donated more than $10.5 million to Texas candidates and political action committees during the 2020 election cycle. Over $10 million went to seed the newly formed Charles Butt Public Education Political Action Committee.


Out of the 27 key races in the push for majority control of the Texas House, seven are simply too close to call, according to our campaign finance data. See those races — along with the ones that we think may flip — here.


The 689 Republican candidates in Texas raised more than $17 million in the third quarter of this year, while the 668 Democratic candidates raised $13,148,799 during the same time frame.


The latest campaign finance reports are in, and in just the last three months, more than $105 million has been donated to state-level candidates and political action committees (that’s not counting any money donated to federal races like the U.S. Congressional, Senate, or Presidential campaigns). To put that number in context, during the same time frame in 2016, Texas candidates and PACs collected almost $41.5 million. Giving is up 156 percent in the third quarter of 2020 compared to 2016.


As of the most recent campaign finance reports, Governor Greg Abbott has $38,154,024 cash-on-hand. Although he’s not on the ballot this election cycle, Abbott has raised more than $27 million since January 2019.


In addition to the $824,888 donated to candidates in the Special Election for Texas Senate District 30, candidates Shelley Luther and Craig Carter have received notably outsized loans to their campaigns at $1,043,827 and $41,000, respectively.


More money has been spent in the election for Texas First District Court of Appeals Place 5 than any other judicial race this election cycle. Republican Terry Adams and Democrat Amparo Guerra have shelled out a combined $292,729. There are 13 state-level contested judicial races this November.


Political contributions totaling $90 or more to a Texas candidate or PAC in one election cycle must be reported (by the candidate or PAC) to the Texas Ethics Commission and must include the donor’s name, address, employer, occupation, and date of the donation. Smaller contributions may remain anonymous.


As we wrap up two weeks of national party conventions, here’s a look at what the state-level parties have spent so far for the 2020 elections. The Republican Party of Texas has $2,920,456 in expenditures, while the Texas Democratic Party has spent $1,485,274. (Each state party maintains two PACs — as seen here on TUSA — because the law requires that funds received from corporations and labor unions are held separately from other donations.) 


So far for 2020, more money has been spent in the rematch between Republican Gary Gates and Democrat Elizabeth Markowitz to represent House District 28 than any other Texas race. Combined, they have spent a whopping $3.3 million — with the incumbent Republican’s expenditures accounting for over 75 percent of that total.


The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and affiliated groups have raised more than $30 million to support their effort to flip Republican-controlled state legislatures to Democratic control this November. Democratic groups at the federal and state levels are seeking to gain control of state legislatures before the all-important, once-a-decade redistricting process set to happen in 2021. Redistricting involves redrawing legislative maps for the state and U.S. Congress and greatly impacts which party will have political control for the foreseeable future. Texas is among their top targets.


So far this election cycle, the City of Austin has spent somewhere between $920,000 and $1,750,000 of Texas taxpayers’ money to hire lobbyists. 


Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a politically moderate, pro-business PAC, raised more than $5 million in the second quarter of this year, bringing their fundraising total for the 2020 election cycle to a whopping $13,209,694. TLR typically supports moderate-to-liberal Republicans and the occasional Democrat. They are well-stocked to support their favored candidates and causes this fall.


Donations to Democratic office holders and candidates for the Texas legislature have increased by 69 percent compared to 2018. Likely motivated by a chance to take control of the Texas House and by political unrest, Democratic coffers are swelling.


Texas lobbyists reported $17,670,086 spent in the second quarter of 2020 to influence lawmakers in Austin. This brings the total spent on Texas lobbying during the 2020 election cycle up to $640,654,868.


Election Day for the party primary runoffs in Texas is this upcoming Tuesday, July 14. Although primary elections were held back on March 3rd, 16 of those elections for the Texas House and Senate have proceeded to a runoff because no candidate was able to garner at least 50 percent of the vote. 


In 2018, the Republican incumbent won re-election to Texas House District 138 by a razor-thin 0.1 percent margin, making this race a target for Democrats hoping to flip the Texas House this November. We’re keeping a close eye on this race and all 27 races that were decided by 10 percentage points or less, making them battleground elections in 2020.


The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led by former Attorney General Eric Holder, recently announced $115,000 in direct donations to the campaigns of candidates for the Texas House. If Democrats can flip nine seats in November, they will control the Texas House, and with it, the all-important decennial redistricting process. Former President Barack Obama has identified the redistricting process as his top post-presidential political priority.


The Texas primary runoff elections feature close races where no candidate was able to garner 50 percent of the vote in the March primary. The runoffs, postponed due to COVID-19 in May, are now scheduled for July 14, 2020. Recent events — including the pandemic and race-related protests — highlight, more than ever, the importance of your state politicians. Early voting begins Monday, June 29 and runs through Friday, July 10. Counting today, there are four days left to register to vote in these elections. 


At Transparency USA, we’ve tracked $9,810,317,124.93 (so far, and adding more as it happens) in political dollars flowing through nine states: Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. Search here and find the answers you need about the money in state politics.


In Texas, a lobbyist can spend up to $132.60 per legislator, per day without having to report it.


For the 2020 election cycle (2019 – 2020), $110,709,975 in taxpayer dollars is being spent to lobby Austin politicians. 


For the 2020 election cycle, 1,451 lobbyists have been hired to influence 181 Texas lawmakers in Austin.


Since 2018, the number of state-level Republican candidates has decreased by 12 percent, but their donations have dropped by an astounding 73 percent. By comparison, the number of Democratic candidates has declined by two percent while their donations have grown by 26 percent.


In the 2018 election cycle, money spent on lobbying in Texas exceeded all donations to Texas candidates and PACs by more than $100 million.


Since 2015 (which includes the 2016, 2018, and 2020 election cycles to date), more than $1.7 billion has been spent in Texas on lobbying politicians.


The House Majority PAC, a Democratic SuperPAC primarily dedicated to helping elect Democrats to the U.S. Congress, has purchased $51 million worth of TV ads to be aired — mostly in swing states. More than $5.1 million is targeted specifically toward Texas.


According to, 40 states have already made changes to their state elections dates or procedures (candidate filing requirements, state political party conventions, and voting or absentee voting processes) in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


The U.S. Senate just passed a $2 trillion Coronavirus relief bill. In one week this aid package doubled from an estimated one trillion, and Congress is discussing further relief. The bill includes approximately $340 billion for items apparently unrelated to the virus and its fallout.


The U.S. Congress is hammering out the details of an economic stimulus package designed to prop up the faltering national  economy as it struggles with consequences from the coronavirus. The cost is expected to exceed one trillion dollars. The current national debt is already more than $23 trillion, or $190,000 per taxpayer.


In the most surprising political upset in recent Texas politics, incumbent Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton spent $800,555  — 64 times what his primary challenger Jim Wright spent — and still lost the seat.


Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC, which typically supports moderate-to-liberal Republicans, has given $224,131 in in-kind and direction contributions to Democrat State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. this election cycle. Lucio Jr. faces two Democratic primary challengers who claim he is not sufficiently progressive.


Since 2015, 86 percent of Texas House Rep. Dan Flynn’s contributions have come from PACs and lobbyists.


On March 3, Texans will vote in 65 primary battles for Texas House of Representatives — 29 Republican and 36 Democrat. The winners of those contests will advance to the general election in November.


So far, for the 2020 Texas elections, 98 percent of donors have given $1,000 or less.


Donors, PACs, and lobbyists donated $374,477 to Dennis Bonnen’s campaign account even after he came under investigation by the Texas Rangers.


$21,045,707 from out-of-state has already poured into the 2020 campaign accounts of Texas candidates and PACS.


On average, in 2018, candidates spent $354,099 to win a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. 


This year Texas State Senator John Whitmire spent $38,020 of his campaign contributions on tickets to Houston Texans, Rockets, and Astros games.


In what is shaping up to be a Texas municipal campaign record, incumbent Sylvester Turner and challenger Tony Buzbee have spent a combined $19,000,000 to become the next mayor of Houston.


In the 2018 elections, 27 of the Texas House seats were won with less than a 10 percent margin of victory. Democrats only need to pick up nine seats to gain control of the House, so expect fierce competition for these seats in 2020. We’ll bring you all the up-to-the-minute details on this race to raise campaign cash beginning in January.


This week a group of Texas House Republicans announced the formation of a new PAC, Leading Texas Forward, with well-known Republican strategist Karl Rove as treasurer. Rep. Charlie Geren (Fort Worth), one of the PAC’s leaders, said the group seeks to raise $5,000,000 this cycle which they will use primarily to defend Republican incumbents. Geren also said the money will not be used to attack incumbents of either party. 


The chairmen of the five most powerful committees in the Texas House (Calendars, Appropriations, Ways & Means, State Affairs, and Public Education) raised, on average, 395 percent compared to the average brought in by their colleagues in the fundraising season after the 2017 legislative session.


On Tuesday, Texas voters approved nine out of 10 proposed amendments to their state constitution, most notably a prohibition on a state income tax. Texas is one of nine states with no income tax.


The five candidates in the race to be the next mayor of Houston have combined spent more than $14.6 million in their efforts to win votes. The frontrunners are incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee.


According to the most recent campaign finance reports, Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen controls $3,670,776 between his candidate account and Texas Leads, the PAC he established. Although Bonnen has announced he will not seek reelection, the embattled Speaker still has considerable political and financial sway.


Secretly recorded audio released this week revealed Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen asking Michael Quinn Sullivan of Empower Texans to “pop” (launch a primary attack against) ten Republican representatives in exchange for media access to the House floor. 


This week presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders released an aggressive policy agenda designed to reduce the influence of money in politics. As part of that plan, Bernie would like to limit individual contributions to $500. Currently, individuals may donate up to $2800 per election to a candidate for federal office. There are no limits on donations to candidates for Texas House, Senate, or statewide offices.


At least ten of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates have called for expanding or mandating publicly funded campaigns, but zero have opted in to the existing system for government funding. 


Several Democratic presidential candidates report spending $60 (even as high as $90) in online advertising to raise one dollar. The DNC required candidates to collect at least 130,000 individual donations in order to qualify for the last debate. They apparently understand the outsized value of an individual donation, no matter how small.


Congressman Joaquin Castro, the twin brother and campaign manager for Democratic presidential hopeful, Julian Castro, tweeted the names and employers of 44 San Antonio residents who had contributed to Trump. This increasingly common practice, known as “doxxing,” is posting someone’s personal information in hopes of shaming them or even inciting an online mob to harass, intimidate, or otherwise cause harm.


All eyes turn toward Houston this week for the third Democratic presidential debate. Three Texans are running to be the nominee — Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio, Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman from El Paso, and Marianne Williamson, a New Age spiritual advisor. (Ms. Williamson did not qualify for this debate.) According to a University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll of Democrat voters in Texas, O’Rourke is currently in third place, behind front runners Biden and Warren.


Donations received by the Freedom Caucus are only 38 percent of what they took in during the same time period in the last election.


One hundred percent of House Rep. Dustin Burrows’ campaign contributions on the first financial reports for 2020 were from donors outside his district. In fact, all but three donations were from Austin. While Austin lobbyists and PACs can write big checks, they can’t vote. Lack of support from inside his district, combined with an ongoing investigation by the Texas Rangers, could mean Burrows is vulnerable heading into 2020.


The two most prominent conservative PACs in Texas are Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life, both ranking on the top ten lists in the last election cycle for most contributions and most money spent. So far, neither PAC has donated one dime to any candidate or campaign for 2020.


ActBlue Texas, a PAC dedicated to helping elect Democrats, took in a jaw-dropping 16,122 individual donations as of the first campaign reports of 2020. For context, during the same time frame, Associated Republicans of Texas collected 306 individual donations. This is good news for Democrats as there is  no better predictor of success on election day than a large number of individual donations, no matter the dollar amount.


Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC has taken in $3,686,075, more money than any other Texas PAC, which they will have available to spend on campaigns in 2020. Even with this impressive haul, TLR’s receipts represent only five percent of the total money given to Texas candidates and PACs so far this election cycle.


The most interesting donations from the first campaign finance reports of 2020 are the ones that are missing. Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen took in only $1,000.  For context, during the same time period after the last legislative session then-Speaker Joe Straus took in $340,955.


Abbott is known for his nearly superhuman ability to raise money, and so far this election cycle he does not disappoint. Since he handily secured reelection last November for a four-year term, one might expect his campaign donations to slow. Not even close — his $12 million haul is even more than he raised in the same time frame two years ago. 


Ninety-eight percent of all donations made to Texas candidates and PACs so far for the 2020 election cycle were for $1,000 or less.


The 13 American colonies declared their independence from Great Britain 243 years ago. “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

We are thankful this week for this great nation, for freedom, and for you, the Transparency Texas community, because you care about preserving that freedom.


The first contribution and expenditure numbers for the 2020 election cycle are here. Texas candidates and PACs have received $4,197,916 in contributions already this year, primarily related to the special elections in the state legislature. Expect those numbers to soar when the semi-annual reports become available in mid-July. 


Governor Abbott deleted zero expenses from the Texas budget. Although he has line-item veto power, he chose to approve the entire $250.7 billion two-year budget.


This week Governor Abbott signed Senate Bill 2 into law. Officially known as the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, this law requires cities and counties to get voter approval if they wish to increase property taxes by more than 3.5 percent over the previous year. Local school districts can increase taxes by no more than 2.5 percent over the previous year. Prior to the passage of this law, local taxing entities were able to raise taxes by eight percent each year before voters had the opportunity to petition for a vote on the increase. 


This week Governor Abbott signed five bills which are designed to fight human trafficking, increase resources for survivors of sexual assault, and eliminate Texas’ rape kit backlog. Abbott said these new laws are about “making Texas a hostile place for human traffickers and providing protection to the victims of this heinous crime.” 


The Texas legislature just passed a jaw-dropping budget of more than a quarter of a trillion dollars for the next two years, a 15.7 percent increase over the last two-year budget set in 2017.


There are 11 state representatives who serve on the Calendars Committee in the Texas House. Speaker Bonnen made headlines this week by allegedly using the Calendars Committee to kill several conservative bills.


Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced this week that state coffers would take in half a billion dollars more than previously projected, largely due to increased estimates of tax revenue from oil and gas production. Will the lawmakers in conference committee — which is currently finalizing the state budget for the next two years — choose to spend the extra money, dedicate it to the “Rainy Day Fund,” or return it to taxpayers in the form of tax relief?


The Texas Senate’s school finance reform proposal includes a $5,000 across-the-board pay raise for all public school teachers and librarians.


The Texas House postponed deliberating on property tax reform three times before finally passing a preliminary bill this week. Three also represents the number of key pieces of legislation lawmakers have linked together in an all-or-nothing legislative gambit — property tax reform, school finance reform, and an increase in sales tax.


Texas House Bill 1325 passed with the approval of every Republican and Democrat. This bill allows Texas farmers to grow hemp (a plant cousin of marijuana) and legalizes many hemp-derived products, such as CBD oil, as long as these products contain no more than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.  


Ninety-eight percent of all political contributions made in the 2018 Texas election cycle were for $1,000 or less.


The Texas Senate passed a $248,000,000,000 budget this week. Now the Texas House and Senate will form a conference committee to resolve the several billion dollar difference between their two budgets.


One hundred percent of the members of the Texas House of Representatives — Republicans and Democrats alike —  voted in lockstep to approve a budget which increases government spending by approximately 16 percent.


Given the current balance of power in the Texas Senate, it only takes one Republican to break ranks with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in order to prevent legislation from receiving a vote.


HR 1, which passed in the U.S. House March 8, would, for the first time, require political advocacy groups (i.e. pro-green energy groups or pro-life organizations) that spend as little as $500 on online ads to submit detailed reports to the government. (At this time, HR 1 is not scheduled for a vote in the Senate.)


The number of taxpayer-funded lobbyists hired by the Texas Municipal League in the last legislative session.


Beto O’Rourke, who proclaimed that he wasn’t taking a dime of corporate or special interest PAC money, still accepted $170,000 collected by J Street PAC, a group which promotes a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Texas lobbyists received $77,725,000 in 2017 for representing clients who appear to receive their funding exclusively or almost exclusively from taxpayer money.


Texas House Rep. Terry Meza has filed a bill which would limit the amount of money an individual or PAC can donate to any Texas candidate, politician, or PAC to $5,000 per calendar year.


Texans spent $406.2 million in the last election cycle to influence which politicians will get to manage — and how they will manage — $216.8 billion of taxpayer money. That means political donations totaled a paltry 0.19 percent compared to the state budget.


The number of emergency items declared by Governor Greg Abbott in his 2019 State of the State Address. They include school finance reform, property tax reform, increasing teacher pay and school safety, as well as increasing mental health services, and disaster response.


Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar projects there will be approximately $119.1 billion in state funds available for lawmakers to spend in the next two-year budget, up from $110.2 billion in the last two-year budget.


The amount of money donated to Texas House Rep. Dennis Bonnen in the 26 days after he announced he had the votes necessary to be the new Speaker of the Texas House.


The number of issues agreed upon by Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen as top priorities for the 86th Texas Legislative Session — reduce the rate of property tax increases and reform school finance.


The total amount of money paid to each Texas lawmaker for his or her work during the 140-day legislative session.


Ninety-eight percent of all contributions in the 2018 Texas elections were for $1,000 or less.


The total amount of money spent by the top 10 PACs in the 2018 Texas elections, as of the most recent reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.


The total amount of money given by the top 10 individual donors to Texas candidates and PACs this election season, as of the most recent reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.


The amount spent by Texas candidates and PACs in the 2018 election season, according to the most recent reports on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.


The amount of money Texans have spent this election season to influence their government in Austin. Other than voting, donations are the primary way citizens exercise their right to political speech. We are thankful for this freedom.


The amount of campaign cash presumptive Speaker of the Texas House Dennis Bonnen shared with other candidates in the 2018 election season.


Texas State Senator Joan Huffman’s fundraising advantage over challenger Rita Lucido.


The amount of money donated so far this election cycle through ActBlue, a PAC dedicated to helping elect progressive and Democrat candidates. As we head into the November elections, ActBlue is the most well-funded political PAC in Texas.


The total amount spent so far by Texas PACs and candidates to influence the 2018 Texas elections.


The amount of donor money Rhetta Bowers, candidate for Texas House District 113, has spent at hair salons, nail salons, and women’s clothing stores.


The amount of money spent so far this election cycle by Annie’s List, a Texas PAC dedicated to electing pro-choice, Democrat women.


The amount of money trial lawyer Jim Adler, aka “The Texas Hammer,” has donated to Beverly Powell to help her oust State Senator Konni Burton from SD10.


The amount of money donated by John Nau, Chairman of Associated Republicans of Texas PAC, to Democrat Julie Johnson via the Beer Alliance of Texas PAC.


Governor Greg Abbott’s cash-on-hand advantage over his challenger, Lupe Valdez.


The amount of money spent so far this cycle by Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to fend off three primary opponents and Miguel Suazo, his Democrat challenger, all of whom have attacked over Bush’s handling of the Alamo renovation project.


One cent. The spending-per-vote by Roman McAllen to win the Democrat primary for Texas Railroad Commissioner.


The amount of campaign money Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar donated to the American Red Cross to assist with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts.


The amount of money Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller paid his campaign treasurer, rock legend Ted Nugent, for signed guitars used at a fundraiser.


The amount Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took from his campaign account to give to his wife’s campaign account to benefit her run for Texas Senate.


The amount of money Mike Collier’s campaign for Lt. Governor has paid to Collier Analytics, LLC, making it the top recipient of funds from his campaign.


The amount of donor-given campaign cash spent so far in the 2018 Election Cycle by Governor Greg Abbott on advertising, the bulk of which went towards purchasing future TV spots.


The amount of donor-given campaign cash spent so far in the 2018 Election Cycle by Texas candidates and PACs at Whataburger!


The amount of donor-given campaign cash spent so far in the 2018 Election Cycle by Texas candidates and PACs at The Austin Club.


The amount of donor-given campaign cash spent so far in the 2018 Election Cycle by Texas candidates and PACs on Starbucks.