09/06/17

Top Ten PACs of the 2018 Texas Election Cycle

Taking a look at which Texas PACs are receiving the most cash can tell you which political tribes and which politicians are currently in the strongest positions as we approach the all-important Texas primaries. It’s important to understand that political power in Texas is not divided simply between Democrats and Republicans, but among four tribes or alliance groups: Democrats and three groups of Republicans (Liberal Republicans, Moderate Republicans, and Conservative Republicans).

Here’s the top ten Political Action Committees that have raised the most money so far in the 2018 election cycle:

1.Texas Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee ($1,933,820): Not surprisingly, the Texas Association of REALTORS is once again the most well-funded political PAC in Texas. What might be surprising is that the Realtors PAC typically uses their financial heft to support liberal Republicans and the occasional Democrat. This cycle is no exception as the Realtors’ PAC has supported numerous candidates including Cody Harris for Texas House District 8, State Representative Drew Darby, State Representative Wayne Faircloth, and State Senator Kel Seliger – giving each $25,000. In all of these races, the Realtors’ PAC is supporting the candidate who is seen as more moderate/liberal than their opponent.

2. Empower Texas PAC ($1,795,542): At the other end of the political spectrum from the Realtors PAC, Empower Texas PAC is known for providing muscular support and defense for conservative candidates. The top recipients of their support so far include $100,000 to State Senator Bob Hall, $55,000 to Armin Mizani, challenger to State Representative Giovanni Capriglione, and $50,000 to Bryan Slaton in his rematch with State Representative Dan Flynn.

3. Republican State Leadership Committee PAC and Individual Account ($1,462,728): This PAC is devoted to helping elect Republicans to down-ballot state offices. The largest contributor to this PAC was Virginian William B. Holtzman. RSLC has made no donations to Texas candidates since the end of the 2017 Special Session.

4. ACTBlue Texas ($1,334,988): ACTBlue Texas is most well known for developing fundraising software to help elect Democrat candidates. The largest donation to ACTBlue Texas so far this cycle came from State Representative Rafael Anchia to the tune of $50,000, while one of the largest recipients of funds from ACTBlue Texas was also Rafael Anchia, for $50,000.

5. Lift Up Houston PAC ($1,042,475): Loosely affiliated with Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Lift Up Houston PAC is dedicated to helping pass five city bonds. Not surprisingly, its donors include those who would benefit from the increased tax dollars that will be generated should the bonds pass: The Greater Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau, several real estate investment funds, the police officers’ union, and Lift the Cap PAC, an organization dedicated to lifting the cap on Houston property taxes.

6. Associated Republicans of Texas Campaign Fund ($999,705): Falling into the Moderate Republican tribe, the Associated Republicans of Texas is dedicated to electing as many Republicans as possible, as opposed to pushing for specific legislation. Donations from well-known Texans including $250,000 from real estate developer Harlan Crow, $200,000 from Woody Hunt, $100,000 from H. Ross Perot, Jr., and $78,110 from John L. Nau, III catapulted ART to the top ten list.

7. Texans for Lawsuit Reform ($901,806): Also a member of the Moderate Republican political tribe, Texans for Lawsuit Reform PAC appears content to continue supporting more liberal and moderate members of the Republicans caucus in both chambers  including State Senator Kel Seliger, State Representative Gio Capriglione, and State Representative Todd Hunter.

8. McLennan County Good Government League ($854,631): This PAC received 100% of its donations from the campaign account of Kip Averitt, former Texas State Senator. This PAC is apparently dedicated to promoting good local government in McLennan County, Texas, which boasts Waco as its county seat. Interestingly, the only candidate to receive money from this PAC in this cycle is State Representative Ken King, whose district is far from McLennan County in the Texas panhandle.

9. Texas Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization PAC ($773,230): A second PAC related to the Realtors makes it into the top ten list. Combined with the money in their other political PAC, the Realtors have raised $2,667,050 in the 2018 cycle alone to wield in Texas politics.

10. BNSF Railway Company RailPAC ($615,147): Like the REALTORs, BNSF Railway Company RailPAC collects many “donations” from employees in their industry. The PAC’s expenditures show a propensity to cross party lines, as they have made donations to both Republicans and Democrats. This cycle BNSF PAC has supported statewide office holders Governor Greg Abbott, Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Land Commissioner George P. Bush, as well as the Tarrant County Democratic Party, and State Representatives Harold Dutton Jr. and Chris Turner.

List last updated: February 5, 2018

 

Our Prominent PACs series highlights the most well-funded and influential Political Action Committees in Texas, focusing on the money they raise and the expenditures they make in an effort to influence elections. Stay tuned for the next installment.

 

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