State

Texas Statewide Officials Rake in Record Dollars

New campaign finance reports from the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC) show that Texas’ “Big Three” politicians — the governor, lieutenant governor, and Texas House speaker — had a strong fundraising period for the latter half of 2020.

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and newly elected House Speaker Dade Phelan both reported their highest fundraising periods on record.

Governor Greg Abbott likewise had a strong period and also spent much more than Patrick or Phelan during elections last year, with about three-quarters of the support that went to other candidates going toward general election campaigns and the other quarter helping out Republicans in intra-party races.

Here is a detailed look at the reports filed by the “Big Three,” as well as a glance at the other statewide elected officials who will be on the ballot in 2022.

Governor Greg Abbott

Since July, Abbott received $11.6 million in contributions and expended nearly as much, bringing the total cash on hand for Abbott and his campaign to $40.4 million.

The governor makes use of two accounts for his finances — Texans for Greg Abbott, a specific-purpose political committee (SPAC), as well as a campaign/office-holder (COH) account.

Abbott’s SPAC is the primary apparatus of his campaign, where donations are received and campaign salaries are paid, but his COH account is also used to fund the bulk of political advertising for Abbott.

In the most recent filing, Abbott transferred $7.7 million from the SPAC to the COH account.

Notable aspects of the two filings include:

  • Abbott received a total of 35,000 donations with an average contribution of $329.
  • $2.4 million of Abbott’s donations came from 535 entities with a $4,725 average, while the rest of his contributions came from individuals.
  • 33,900 of the total donations were $250 or less.
  • Abbott spent $5.9 million dollars on “political advertising.”
  • $1.8 million was used for campaign payroll expenses, including salaries, taxes, fees, and healthcare.
  • $364,000 was spent on polling.
  • Other TEC records indicate that the governor contributed around $2.6 million toward other Republican races around the general election and about $835,000 during elections between Republicans.

“Thanks to our generous supporters, our campaign helped secure Republican victories across the state of Texas this election cycle,” said Abbott in a press release.

“With their support, we will continue to spread the messages of freedom and liberty to every corner of the Lone Star State. Working together, we will keep the promise of Texas alive and ensure that our great state stays the best place to live, work, and raise a family.”

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick had his best fundraising period yet, bringing in $5.2 million since July — topping even his total during the 2018 election.

The lieutenant governor has two campaign accounts as well, but primarily uses his SPAC, Texans for Dan Patrick.

The new filing from Patrick shows that:

  • Patrick entered 2021 with $19.4 million cash-on-hand, the most he has ever reported.
  • Excluding a $90,000 loan repayment from former Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton), Patrick received 1,173 donations with an average contribution of $4,333.
  • Hunt Consolidated CEO Ray Hunt gave the largest donation to Patrick at the tune of $150,000, followed by the Border Health PAC at $125,000.
  • Donors to give $100,000 include Ryan Texas PAC; Buc-cee’s owner Arch Aplin; Landry’s Restaurants CEO Tilman Fertitta; Curves International CEO Gary Heavin; oil and gas executive Douglas Scharbauer; Stanton LLP attorney James Stanton; and Energy Transfer CEO Kelcy Warren.
  • Patrick reported spending $164,000 on advertising, with other TEC records showing that the bulk of that — about $122,000 — went to Flores’ campaign.
  • Records indicate that Patrick did not contribute to any primary campaign or special election between Republicans.

“The Texas conservative majority spoke loudly in November, voting to keep the Texas House and Senate and all statewide offices in Republican hands and I am confident we will keep the streak alive in 2022,” said Patrick in a press release. “I remain honored to serve as Lt. Governor and look forward to running for re-election.”

Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan

After then-Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) announced he had secured enough support to ensure his election as the new Texas House Speaker, he was met with a swarm of donations from individuals and entities totaling $4.5 million since July according to his TEC filing.

Like Abbott, Phelan uses an SPAC named Texans for Dade and a COH.

Notable takeaways from Phelan’s filings include:

  • The total that Phelan raised is slightly more than the $4.1 million that then-Rep. Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) raised in 2019 after his similar assent to the speakership.
  • Phelan entered 2021 with a total of $4.8 million cash-on-hand between his two accounts.
  • The average amount of Phelan’s 988 donations was $4,541, slightly higher than Bonnen’s average of $4,106 in 2019.
  • Border Health PAC contributed the largest donation to Phelan at $100,000.
  • Other PACs to give $50,000 to Phelan include Friends of UT Southwestern Medical Center, AT&T Inc. Texas Political Action Committee, Texas Apartment Assn. PAC, HOMEPAC of the Texas Assn. of Builders, and the Texas REALTORS Political Action Committee.
  • Individuals to give $50,000 to Phelan include Williams Brothers Construction Company CEO James D. Pitcock, Jr.; H-E-B CEO Charles Butt; Franklin Mountain Management President Paul Foster; and Hunt Companies Senior Chairman Woody Hunt.

“I am honored that so many Texans support our vision of responsible government and getting Texas back to work,” said Phelan in a press release.

“The Texas House is laser-focused on recovery from the effects of COVID-19 on our public health, our students, and our economy. At this critical moment in our state’s history, I appreciate the backing of Texans in my district and across the state.”

Other Statewide Officials

In the 2022 midterm elections, the offices of the Big Three will all be up for reelection along with a host of other statewide positions: attorney general, comptroller, agriculture commissioner, land commissioner, and a railroad commission seat.

Current Attorney General Ken Paxton, whose office was riddled with controversy late last year and who has made headlines for staking out strong positions on the hottest political topics, raised $305,000 — his weakest performance since the latter half of 2015.

Paxton reported entering 2021 with $5.6 million cash-on-hand.

Land Commissioner George P. Bush, whose political advisor said that Bush would “keep all options open” in regard to the prospect of a run for attorney general, reported raising $766,000 with $1.8 million cash-on-hand.

Comptroller Glenn Hegar saw a stronger period, reporting having raised $877,000 to bring his total war chest to $7.9 million.

Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian, next in line for reelection out of the staggered Texas Railroad Commission seats, reported raising $254,000 and $537,000 cash-on-hand.

Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, who has toyed with the idea of running for a higher office, raised the least out of statewide officials but reported his best period since his reelection bid in 2018.

Miller reported raising $165,000 and has $154,000 cash-on-hand.

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