Voters Should Beware Lobby Front Groups

As the primary election season pulls into the home stretch, voters are being bombarded with information from a host of campaigns and groups. Unfortunately some of the information they will see this cycle is pure bluster – created to mislead voters into supporting someone who doesn’t share their values when they are in Austin.

Texas Conservative Roundtable

On many moderate Republicans’ mailers, voters will see them tout an award called the “Lone Star Conservative Leader” award. This award is given out by something called the “Texas Conservative Roundtable.” In reality the award is a participation trophy for moderates so that they can claim conservative credentials on their mail pieces when real conservative organizations are unwilling to lend their endorsement. “Texas Conservative Roundtable” gives awards to fully 85 of the 95 Republicans in the Texas House. So who doesn’t get an award? Many of the names missing from the list occupy the highest rankings on the Fiscal Responsibility Index. What’s more, the group actually gave an award to presumptive Democratic Lt. Governor nominee Leticia Van de Putte while withholding one from conservative Donna Campbell.

Curious as to whether “Texas Conservative Roundtable” was a real group or not, we recently visited the address listed on their website. The group claims to be located a block away from the Capitol at 1108 Lavaca St, Suites 110-209, which makes it sound like the organization occupies a whole two floors of downtown office space. Their space, in fact, is a bit smaller than that. It turns out that Suite 110 is the UPS Store. Mail sent to Suite 110-209 ends up in private mail box 209.

Texas Future Business Alliance

Last year, a new front group popped on the scene. Calling themselves the “Texas Future Business Alliance,” a coalition of lobby organizations ranging from the Texas Medical Association, to Texans for Lawsuit Reform, to the Texas Association of Realtors began sending mail into the districts of liberal-to-moderate Republicans proclaiming them to be conservative stalwarts. The mailers were emblazoned with a big “A,” though what that top grade was referencing was anyone’s guess. Texas Future Business Alliance didn’t produce a scorecard. They don’t even have a website.

An exposé by the Dallas Morning News revealed that the group was cobbled together to back moderates over conservatives and to do battle with Empower Texans. The coalition mirrors efforts by the US Chamber of Commerce to do battle with the TEA party.

Keep Texas Working

The newest group to send mail into Republican districts defending moderates and calling them conservatives is called “Keep Texas Working.” Last week, we exposed the group for sending mail into House District 115 that called liberal Republican Bennett Ratliff a conservative. We also noted that the group is led by lobbyist Luke Bellsnyder.

A review of the group’s website showed it claiming a physical address of 809 W 12th Street, Suite E, Austin, TX 78701. Our interests were particularly sparked when a google search of this address turned-up a listing for “Equality Texas,” a left-wing LGBT group. Curious as to the connection, we visited this address as well. The offices behind 809 W 12th Street are fairly run-down, and while a search of the premises revealed doors labeled A–D, there was no office space marked Suite E and a review of the mailboxes at the complex showed that Suite E was skipped. How “Keep Texas Working” and “Equality Texas” are connected, and whether “Keep Texas Working” is any more than paperwork and websites remains a mystery.

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Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel for Empower Texans. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony received his J.D. in 2012 from UT Law School. While in school, Tony served as Senior Vice Chairman for Young Conservatives of Texas and helped manage its legislative affairs. During the 83rd Texas Legislature he served as Chief of Staff for Rep. Jonathan Stickland. Tony resides in Austin and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.

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