Weber Rejects Lampson's Offer to Ban “Secret Money” in the Hotly Contested Race for CD14

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Yesterday the Nick Lampson for Congress campaign released a statement expressing disappointment that their opponent – State Representative Randy Weber – rejected "A Gentlemen's Agreement" to ban "secret money" in their race. The 14th Texas congressional district currently represented by the retiring Ron Paul has gained national attention as a competitive race. The secret money refers to Super PACs who can receive unlimited anonymous donations via their 501C(4) "Social Welfare Organization" tax-exempt status. In other words unlimited cash can be funneled to groups that advocate, but do not technically coordinate with political candidates.  As you can see pictured right the cover letter was short and to the point, "Let's put a stop to this secret money in our district." Weber responded by calling it a "stunt" insisting that Nancy Pelosi "will ignore this 'Gentleman's Agreement' with a wink at Nick as she tries to secure his vote into her purse." The Beaumont Enterprise editorial board acknowledged the political context of the request but threw its own weight behind the idea stating,  

Voters deserve to know who is bankrolling their candidates. It helps them decide if they want this person representing them in Austin or Washington. If a candidate is uneasy about the source of some of his funds, that's another red flag that voters must consider. Weber should accept Lampson's proposal.

Republicans latest attempt to block disclosure below the jump…

Last month the IRS responded to a petition by two campaign finance reform groups' (Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center) asking the agency to review the way it oversees tax-exempt social welfare groups by saying it, “is aware of the public interest in this issue” and “will consider proposed changes in this area.” That prompted Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell to send their own letter this week warning the IRS that any changes to the way it handles politically active groups in the 501C(4) category would be "highly extraordinary" and considered politically motivated. Republicans have a lot riding on the ability to abuse this tax-exempt status to raise unlimited anonymous contributions as most of the money raised through these entities has gone to support conservative candidates. Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS has received about 1/3 of all super PAC donations and spent over $50 million attacking President Obama or supporting Mitt Romney in the just the last 3 months.

As of the June 30th filing Weber trails Lampson in Cash on Hand $110,197 to $343,615 and probably cannot afford to miss out on any financial blessing that might be bestowed on him by undisclosed angel investors. Republicans haven't always supported unlimited anonymous campaign contributions and some of these same Republicans sang a different tune before the contribution limits were removed. In 2000 Mitch McConnell said, "Republicans are in favor of disclosure…Why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?” and Speaker John Boehner echoed that sentiment in 2007 saying, “We ought to have full disclosure…Sunlight is the best disinfectant.” However since the Citizens United decision Republicans have fought disclosure at every turn including filibustering the DISCLOSE Act which sought to make some tax-exempt groups release the names of those who give donations of $10,000 or more. Its enough to make you wonder what happened to the party of Reagan, who in his 1988 reelection campaign called for "full disclosure of all campaign contributions, including in-kind contributions."


Below is the rejected Gentlemen's Agreement…


About Author

Joe Deshotel

Joe was born and raised in Beaumont, Tx, but live music and politics brought him to Austin. He has worked in and around government and elections for over a decade including for a member of US Congress, the Texas Legislature, the Mayor of Austin. He currently serves as Communications Director for the Travis County Democratic Party. He is most interested in transportation, energy and technology issues. He also likes Texas Hold'em and commuting on his electric skateboard. Follow me on Twitter at @joethepleb.

1 Comment

  1. RestoreAmerica on

    There is ALOT of misunderstanding about this topic.  Lampson's “gentlemen's agreement” may not hold as much water as some think.  Some are saying that Weber must be trying to hide something.  This is not true.  Hear me out:

    By LAW, neither candidate can use funds from undisclosed sources, regardless of the “gentlemen's agreement” .  Any donor who gives over $200 to a campaign must be disclosed by LAW.  So, no, Weber is not trying to keep his donors secret.  By law they must be disclosed.  The “gentlemen's agreement” changes nothing in this respect.  Check to see for yourself.

    Now, a Super-PAC is an organization that can use so called “secret funds.”  However, it is ILLEGAL for any candidate to coordinate the expenditures made by a Super-PAC.  In other words, by LAW, neither Weber nor Lampson can tell a Super-PAC how to spend their money.  Neither candidate is allowed to coordinate the spending of these “secret funds.”

    The conclusion:  Even without the “gentlemen's agreement”, Weber and Lampson CANNOT use secret funds.  Maybe Mr. Lampson is trying to use this “gentlemen's agreement” for political gain.

    Weber also knows that Lampson can sign this agreement but the DNC Super-PACs can still dump money into the campaign on behalf of Lampson.  Super-PACs can do what they want and are not bound by the “gentlemen's agreement.”  Lampson cannot control what Super-PACs do on his behalf.  Just watch, you will see Super-PACs spend money on behalf of Lampson.

    Once again, by LAW, neither candidate can use secret funds.  The gentlemen's agreement has no effect on this.  Let's leave this behind and get to the meat of the election – important issues.

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