Expenditures by the Nathan Hecht, Jeff Brown, and Phil Johnson Campaigns Appear to Violate State Law

Campaign finance reports filed with the Texas Ethics Commission earlier this week by the campaigns of Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Jeff Brown and Phil Johnson reflect expenditures by each campaign that may be in violation of Texas campaign finance laws. The Hecht, Brown, and Johnson campaigns each reported a $7,000 contribution to the Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) Political Action Committee. According to a report by blogger David Jennings of BigJollyPolitics.com, the contributions to the YCT PAC are for the purpose of subsidizing an “endorsement slate” mailer by the organization.

These contributions to the YCT PAC appear to be in violation of a state law. Section 253.1611(b) of the Texas Election Code states:

“A judicial candidate or a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate may not use a political contribution to knowingly make political contributions to a political committee in connection with a primary election.”

These questionable contributions to the YCT PAC came just weeks after former Texas Supreme Court Justice David Medina was sanctioned for similar activity. Medina, who was defeated in the 2012 Republican Primary, was recently ordered to pay $1,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission after the Commission found credible evidence that Medina violated section 253.1611(b) of the Texas Election Code, among other violations.

In addition to receiving $7,000 contributions from other candidates endorsed by YCT, the YCT PAC also reported a $12,000 contribution from the Empower Texans PAC. As we reported last month, Empower Texans (also known as Texans For Fiscal Responsibility) endorsed Hecht, Brown, and Johnson despite their organization’s stated endorsement policy requiring a candidate to complete a questionnaire to be eligible to receive an endorsement. After we raised questions about their endorsement process, Empower Texans altered their endorsement policy and acknowledged that Hecht, Brown, or Johnson had not completed a questionnaire or interviewed with their organization prior to receiving their endorsement. Hecht, Brown, and Johnson each face an opponent in the March 4th, 2014 Republican Primary.

The campaign finance report from the Hecht campaign reflecting a $7,000 contribution to the YCT PAC can be viewed here

The campaign finance report from the Brown campaign reflecting a $7,000 contribution to the YCT PAC can be viewed here

The campaign finance report from the Johnson campaign reflecting a $7,000 contribution to the YCT PAC can be viewed here

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