Texans for Public Justice

609 West 18th St., Suite E, Austin, Texas 78701 ·PH:(512) 472-9770 ·FAX:(512) 472-9830
For Immediate Release: 
Monday, April 12, 1999
Contact Craig McDonald
 (512) 472-9770
Watchdog Group Criticizes Bush Plan
to Dodge Presidential Spending Limit

Austin:  An Austin-based public interest group that tracks money in Texas politics criticized Governor George W. Bush today for his preliminary decision to ignore the voluntary presidential campaign spending limits adopted in the wake of the Watergate scandal.

"Governor Bush's decision to blow the lid off the presidential spending limits will only deepen voter cynicism. Unlike Ross Perot or Steve Forbes, who bankrolled their own campaigns, George Bush will rely on millions of dollars in special-interest money to fund his television blitz of the key primary states," said Texans for Public Justice (TPJ) Director Craig McDonald. "Bush is no conservative when it comes to stockpiling campaign cash, and he has demonstrated little compassion for political reform."

TPJ warned that Bush's decision to ignore the 25-year-old spending limits will escalate the arms race in political spending even further, empowering special-interest groups and disenfranchising average voters. Americans want more -- not fewer -- limits on political spending and special-interest politics.

Governor Bush's record on campaign reform is dismal. Consider the fact that:

 If Bush does forego the voluntary spending limits, his campaign will be able to raise a record amount of money for his primary races. Bush strategists hope to counteract the individual wealth of candidates such as Steve Forbes, who spent about $4 million in the 1996 Iowa caucuses, more that twice the spending limit. The overall 1996 primary spending limits were just over $37 million.

Bush is assembling a network of high-rolling "pioneers," who pledge to bring in a minimum of $100,000 each. Unlike contributions to Bush's Texas races, which are unlimited, individual contributions to his presidential effort cannot exceed $1,000. Bush's first federal disclosure, due April 15, is expected to report that he raised $7 million in March.

"If Bush succeeds in buying a primary victory with millions of dollars from special-interests, you can bet the soft-money coffers of the Republican party will explode with general election contributions from his corporate cronies," said McDonald.  "A Bush victory may lead to bunk beds in the Lincoln Bedroom to accommodate all of Bush's pioneers."

The Federal Election Commission has yet to calculate the official spending limits for year-2000 presidential primary candidates, though a private firm has estimated that they will be $40.2 million. Candidates agreeing to the voluntary spending limits are also eligible for federal matching funds for contributions of $250 or less. The estimated total amount of possible matching funds for the 2000 primary elections is $16.75 million.

Bush's Top Contributors, 1998 Governor's Race
Contributors who gave over $50,000
Name Company or home city Amount
A. R. Sanchez International Bank of Commerce  $106,000
Robert C. McNair Cogen Technologies $100,000
Tom Loeffler Arter & Hadden $96,000
George C. Hixon Hixon Development $95,000
Farmers Employee and Agent PAC  - $91,000
Texas Automobile Dealers Association  - $89,500
Warren W. Tichenor San Antonio $89,436
Texas Association of Realtors - $83,472
Louis A. Beecherl Beecherl Investments $80,000
International Bank of Commerce - $78,500
Lonnie A. Pilgrim Pilgrim's Pride $78,000
John T. Amend The Amend Group $77,000
Vinson & Elkins Texas PAC - $77,000
Peter O'Donnell Investor/retired banker $76,000
Kenneth L. Lay Enron $75,000
Ray L. Hunt Hunt Oil $75,000
Richard D. Kinder Enron $75,000
Phillip D. Adams College Station $75,000
William A. McMinn Sterling Chemicals $75,000
William L. Hutchison Attorney $75,000
Dennis R. Berman Denitech Corp. $75,000
David W. Hickson College Station $75,000
David H. Dewhurst Falcon Seaboard $75,000
Drayton McLane Houston Astros/Walmart $75,000
Glenn S. Collins* NeoDyne Technologies $75,000
Frederick R. Meyer Aladdin Industries $75,000
Edward O. Gaylord Houston $75,000
Texas Dental Association PAC - $73,425
Thomas O. Hicks Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst $70,000
Texas Bell Employee PAC - $70,000
Good Government Fund Bass Family Enterprises $69,500
James R. Leininger Kinetic Concepts $65,000
Baker & Botts L.L.P. - $60,000
Gary G. Jacobs Laredo $60,000
Henry J. Smith Clark/Bandos Inc. $60,000
Texas Farm Bureau Ag Fund PAC - $55,000
NationsBank Texas PAC - $55,000
David I. Saperstein Houston $55,000
Texas Society of CPAs PAC - $52,000
James D. Pitcock Williams Brothers Construction $52,000
L. Lowry Mays Clear Channel Communications $51,000
R. Steven Hicks Capstar Broadcasting $51,000
A. J. Perenchio Los Angeles, CA $51,000
Bennett Joe Glazer Dallas $51,000
Albert D. Huddleston Dallas $51,000
AT&T PAC - $51,000
*Glenn S. Collins was wrongly listed as an affiliate of the Ramey & Flock law firm in an earlier edition of this release. Texans for Public Justice regrets the error.  
Texans for Public Justice is a non-profit, non-partisan research and advocacy
organization that tracks the role of money in Texas politics.

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