This report focuses on the 850 so-called
“general-purpose PACs” that were active in Texas in the 2004 election cycle.
During this same period, however, dozens of so-called “specific purpose
PACs” also reported political contributions and expenditures to the Texas
Ethics Commission. Most of these “S-PACs” formed for the exclusive support
of a specific candidate, as in the case of “Texans for Rick Perry.” Yet
16 S-PACs operated in 2004 for other purposes, most often to weigh in on
a proposed state constitutional amendment. These 16 PACs spent almost $20
million during the 2004 cycle. Proposition 12, the constitutional amendment
allowing lawmakers to cap damages on medical and other lawsuits, accounted
for most of this money. Trial lawyer money led the opposition to Prop.
12, which got its strongest support from medical interests. The measure
passed in September 2003 with 51 percent of the vote.
Prop. 12 S-PACs
|Prop 12 PAC
|Yes On 12
|Save Texas Courts
|Texans for Patients' Rights
|Physicians Caring for Texas
|Keep Your Rights
|Texans Against Prop. 12
|Nueces Co. Medical Society
|Gregg Co. Citizens for Prop. 12
|Committee Against Prop. 12
|TX Conference for Homeowners' Rights
|Citizens for Better Transportation
|Committee for a Secure Retirement
|Yes On 14
|Citizens Against Austin Commuter Rail
Several S-PACs formed to promote other
2003 constitutional amendments. Banks floated the Texas Conference for
Homeowners’ Rights, which helped legalize lines of credit secured by home
equity (Prop. 16). The union-backed Committee for a Secure Retirement helped
force cities to honor pension contracts with employees (Prop. 15). Bond
companies and road builders greased Yes on 14, which authorized the Texas
Transportation Commission to issue bonds to build highways.
Most of the other S-PACs promoted local
government initiatives. Zachry Construction was a top donor to two business
S-PACs promoting San Antonio infrastructure projects. People’s Nine helped
pass $214 million in local bonds in November 2003 and a year later Citizens
for Better Transportation pushed a new sales tax for area roads. Ex-Tracor
executive Jim Skaggs single handedly bankrolled Citizens Against Austin
Commuter Rail, which helped derail a 2004 Austin light rail initiative.
San Antonio attorneys underwrote Judicial Roundup, which helped Republican
District Judges Rebecca Simmons and Lori Massey fend off strong Democratic
challenges in 2004.