Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Ratcheting Up the Pressure

The House Democratic Caucus announced this morning that all of its members have signed on to House Bill 1348 which would clean up some of the worst excesses from the GOP corporate money campaign of 2002. The watchdog group Campaigns for People is promoting the legislation and has put out a good analysis of the bill. Among the highlights: It will give a sharper definition to what constitutes an administrative expense for which corporate money can be used. (Tom DeLay's Texans for a Republican Majority called polling, phone banks, and candidate support "administrative.") It also eliminates sham issues ads that pretend to be about educating voters but are really "sleazy last minute attack ads," as Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) called them. Gallego played for the press an example of a radio ad put out by Americans for Job Security, a group connected to Gov. Rick Perry that slimed Rep. Tommy Merritt (R-Longview).

Besides the Dems, the bill also boasts 30 Republican co-signers. Many of them know that the votes they took earlier this session on the school finance bill HB 2 could come back to haunt them as "issue ads" in the primary. Just because the bill has 93 co-sponsors, 17 more votes than it needs to pass, doesn't mean Speaker Tom "fingerprints all over the 2002 scandal" Craddick (R-Midland) will let it get a hearing on the floor. "Time is becoming a concern," said Rep. Craig Eiland (D-Galveston), one of the original authors. "If it doesn't start moving soon and fast, the invisible hand of government can kill it."