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Texas PACs: 2004 Election Cycle Spending
IV. Specific-Purpose PACs

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 2004 Cycle
Prop 12 PAC Position Spending
Yes On 12 Yes $7,192,220
Save Texas Courts No $7,594,894
Texans for Patients' Rights No $1,807,806
Physicians Caring for Texas Yes $1,161,138
Keep Your Rights No $209,910
Texans Against Prop. 12 No $127,150
Nueces Co. Medical Society Yes $68,710
Gregg Co. Citizens for Prop. 12 Yes $28,960
Committee Against Prop. 12 No $24,427
  TOTAL: $18,215,215
Other S-PACs
Specific-Purpose PAC 2004 Cycle
TX Conference for Homeowners' Rights $779,936
Citizens for Better Transportation $342,662
Committee for a Secure Retirement $259,815
Yes On 14 $165,000
People's Nine $128,900
Judicial Roundup $62,005
Citizens Against Austin Commuter Rail $15,000
TOTAL:  $1,753,318

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.