In light of #Bonnghazi (h/t @jessicashortall) spilling out all over #txlege for the last day+, a few observations on Texas politics from my follow the money / campaign finance perspective.

Here is the contribution chart to the Empower Texans PAC from the day after the 2016 election through the Semi-Jul 17 report. — $476,414 from 145 different contributors Lots of the expected names giving significant amounts

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When you look at how the 2018 cycle money came in through the Semi-Jul 17 report: — 123 contributors made donations of $200 or less, totaling $6,399–22 contributors made large donations, over $200, totaling $470,015 Not very grassroots, but a significant amount of money

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Then the legislative session happened. Leach bailed from the Freedom Caucus before things started, lots of kumbaya with Bonnen as we began, but by the end of the session, ET was calling it a purple session, Stickland had bailed, and no one was sure about ET’s relevance.

Bonnen says no member is to campaign against incumbents, Republican or Democrat. This is likely a play to try and preserve the current Republican majority for 2020, as incumbents pretty much always have an advantage in an election, but that doesn’t fit the ET playbook.

But…, ET seemingly decides to play along, at least a little bit. On June 19, MQS writes an editorial endorsing Donald J Trump, stating “No race in 2020 is more important in Texas than re-electing President Donald Trump.”

ENDORSEMENT: Re-Elect Donald Trump — Texas ScorecardNo race in 2020 is more important in Texas than re-electing President Donald Trump. texasscorecard.com

Those who traditionally bankroll ET line up to support the Trump Victory PAC

That’s $967k in 2019

Where does that leave the ET PAC? With just $19,620 in donations from 30 contributors from election day 2018 through the Semi-Jul 19 report

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When you look at how the 2020 cycle money came in through the Semi-Jul 19 report: — 28 contributors made donations of $200 or less, totaling $3,620–3 contributors made large donations, over $200, totaling $16,000 This is just 4% of what they got in the same period in 2017

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You don’t have money coming in, your “power” is being questioned / mocked by the very folks who used to tip toe around you. How do you get people talking about you again? How do you stir up the “grassroots” who really didn’t exist in the first place? 🤔

Bonnen’s Backroom Offer — Texas ScorecardHouse Speaker and his Republican Caucus chairman want us to target specific Republican legislators, and offered us media credentials in return.texasscorecard.com

Are the allegations true? Will this make ET relevant in 2020? Will the money come back? Will this completely fracture the Texas GOP? Or maybe this is just a hail mary that will fall incomplete in the end zone. Too many unknowns at this point.

Here is what I strongly believe. The billionaire / millionaire religious idealogues who have funded ET may no longer see it as their vehicle to impose their beliefs upon Texas, but they aren’t going away. Anyone who tells you the fight is won isn’t being completely honest.

The field of play may change. The tools they leverage will change, get re-branded, co-opted, and appear as the next innocuous thing. But we will track it down, call it out, and work to make Texas a place for everyone, not just one small group of people who worship a certain way.

Addendum — Dennis Bonnen responded to the allegations via an email / letter sent to the House members on Friday night, telling his side of the story. You can read it below.

I chart Texas Politics at christackettnow.com and write about things that matter (to me at least) whenever the muse hits.

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