Elections 2022Ethics Complaint Filed Against Texas Democratic Party Partner Over Corporate Donations

The commission has agreed to consider the complaint but has not yet made any finding of wrongdoing.
November 14, 2022
The political action committee with which the Texas Democratic Party (TDP) partnered for its “voter protection” efforts this year funneled corporate dollars into the state party — and a complaint with the Texas Ethics Commission alleges legal wrongdoing.

Power the Vote was contracted with the TDP in February this year to “support the TDP’s ongoing efforts to build statewide voter protection infrastructure to ensure that elections in Texas are more free, fair, and accessible for all voters.”

Its roles were to establish a voter education program, an assistance hotline, a poll watching program, and an “advocacy initiative” to provide advice for local governments on Texas’ new election laws.

“Power the Vote is proud to support the Texas Democratic Party’s efforts to fight for Texas voters,” the organization’s co-founder Kimberley Allen said at the time. “Texas is not only an important battleground state — it is also critical to the fight for democracy. Our investment in Texas reflects our commitment to ensuring that every voter has their voice heard.”

On February 3, Power the Vote – Texas, Inc. received a $175,000 contribution from Power the Vote, Inc., its national head based in Atlanta that runs similar efforts in other states. From April 29 through September 1, Power the Vote – Texas, Inc. made $170,000 in contributions to the state party’s general fund and spent $1,250 on a booth rental at its convention.

The Texan Tumbler

A complaint was filed on November 2 by Mark McCaig, chairman of the Texas Republican Initiative, with the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC).

It alleges a violation of two sections of Texas Election Code: 253.003 and 253.094, which prohibit corporate donations to political parties outside of certain purposes.

In a 2015 advisory opinion concerning a similar situation, the TEC stated, “A general-purpose committee may not use political contributions accepted from a corporation for its own administration to make a contribution to a political party for the party’s administrative costs.”

The account to which the Power the Vote donations went was TDP’s general-purpose PAC, not its corporate one.

An offense under these provisions is a third degree felony, but the agency has no criminal authority — only the ability to levy civil financial penalties.

No wrongdoing has yet been found by the agency, but it has accepted the complaint for review.

Reached by phone on Friday, Allen declined to speak on the record but was not worried about the complaint.

The Texas Democratic Party did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.

In a complaint notice to Power the Vote, the TEC said the allegation “will be processed as a Category Two violation” and that it accepted jurisdiction over the complaint.

The agency then directed the organization to respond in writing within 25 days of receipt of the notice, which is dated as November 8.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.