Ethics Commission Doubles Down On Unconstitutional Action

After meeting behind closed doors today, the Texas Ethics Commission said they stood by their decision to probe Empower Texans and expose the names of donors and subscribers despite court precedence and no legal authority.

Empower Texans has sued the TEC after the state agency subpoenaed documents and records that would unconstitutionally expose the names of the organization’s donors and subscribers. Nixon noted that both U.S. Supreme Court precedents and existing state law prohibit the state from asking for such information.

“It’s unfortunate that the TEC is doubling down on their faulty position in trying to do to Texans what the Obama Administration’s IRS is trying to do in Washington,” said Joe Nixon, lead outside counsel for Empower Texans. “Just like the Obama IRS, the TEC is seeking, for some unknown reason, to find out the names of donors to conservative groups in Texas.”

The TEC is represented by the office of Attorney General Greg Abbott.

“After the hearing, the staff lawyer for the Attorney Generals’ office told me that the state has a right to know the names of donors and subscribers to non-profit entities,” said Nixon. “It will be interesting to see what the legal basis for that claim is, since it flies in the face of constitutional precedent and state law.”

During the last legislative session, Democrats and establishment Republicans sought to pass a law requiring conservative non-profit organizations to name their donors. Opposed by the majority of Republicans, the legislation was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

The first hearing for the federal lawsuit is scheduled for Thursday morning in Austin.

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