Empower Texans: Conservative Republican

Tribe: Conservative Republican

Empower Texans (ET) is the standard bearer of conservative PACs in the state of Texas. While they do not directly lobby for specific pieces of legislation, ET does push for more conservative representation in Austin. They often claim that rather than looking to secure a seat at the table of power, they instead are working to get rid of the table altogether.

With massive grassroots support, statewide name I.D., and a donor list rivaling any in the state, ET’s PAC is leading the charge to change the makeup of the Texas House. They are unafraid to invest heavily in challengers to incumbents, and are willing to spend whatever it takes to defend the most conservative members of the legislature. Their tactics and refusal to adhere to the kumbaya culture of the Capitol has earned them the strong disdain of many elected officials and lobbyists. Their list of key legislators in the House is a who’s who list of the most conservative members of Texas’ lower chamber.

A quick look at the top ten recipients of ET dollars in the Texas House shows a clear bent toward supporting the Conservative Republican tribe.

Top Ten Texas House Recipients – 2016 Cycle
Matt Rinaldi $165,000
Jonathan Stickland $123,000
Tony Tinderholt $102,000
Valoree Swanson $57,000
Kyle Biedermann $55,000
Terry Wilson $46,000
Brisco Cain $43,000
Cole Hefner $30,000
Dustin Burrows $27,000
Matt Krause $27,000
Total $675,000

***Shown are the top ten supported  candidates who won the office they sought, as they have votes to examine from the 85th Legislative Session.


Pro-ET Spin:

Often dismissed by House Leadership and the Austin media as mere noise, ET’s influence can be felt in every corner of the Capitol. Whether legislators want to admit that fact is another question. Since their inception in 2006, ET has worked to move the state rightward, supporting conservative candidates and helping voters hold politicians accountable during election season. Like it or not, the results speak for themselves: Texas arguably has the most conservative Lt. Gov. (Dan Patrick) and Texas Senate in its history, and there’s enough commotion in the House to relegate Texas’ most liberal branch of government to essentially only playing defense. Given the fact that they’re taking on the Austin lobby – which has nearly endless amounts of money – ET’s impact relative to dollars spent is seen as a bargain and an efficient use of money by those who support their work.


Anti-ET Spin:

ET’s reputation in the Capitol couldn’t be much worse. Those who have made a career of working in Austin, in and around the Capitol, almost to a person, strongly dislike ET. To some, ET’s unwillingness to compromise is tantamount to a child screaming when they don’t get their way. Their my-way-or-the-highway approach to governance, and the supposed similar demeanor of their key legislators often rubs people the wrong way. Opponents say reaching across the aisle is the only way to move a state as large and diverse as Texas forward, and ET’s support of legislators who refuse to do so will be detrimental to the state over the long run.


The Bottom Line:

ET falls into the Conservative Republican tribe because those are the legislators they support most heavily. To them, commitment to the principles of limited government and personal liberty is everything. That’s why they’re willing to invest so much in candidates who they believe will actually stay committed once they get to Austin. No other PAC we have highlighted in this series spent more on their top ten recipients than Empower Texans.

Their ability to raise large amounts of money, grassroots credibility, and willingness to challenge any legislator that strays from the conservative line – and they’ve challenged many – sets them apart as the most conservative PAC in Texas.

If voters see a large contribution to their candidate/politician from Empower Texans, they can likely assume that person is the most conservative candidate in their respective race and will likely be a thorn in the side of the established leadership structure in Austin.


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