TLR Trying to Buy Democratic Senate Seat With Carol Alvarado

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The ethics commission financial reports for the SD-6 runoff were released earlier this week, making clear where Carol Alvarado's financial support has come from in the last month of this expensive race to replace Sen. Mario Gallegos.

Carol Alvarado raised almost half of her run-off money from Texans from Lawsuit Reform, Stand for Children PAC, a teacher's union-busting organization, payday lenders, and several Republican PACs and mega-donors.

Her campaign is being heavily funded by organizations and individuals that work every day to block our core Democratic values.

Sylvia Garcia, on the other hand, is primarily funded by trial lawyers and labor organizations, the tradional donors to our Democratic candidates and causes.

Before we get into the details of who's giving to who, here's a quick run-down of the notable donors and links to each candidate's runoff report.

February 22 Runoff Reports for SD-6 Special Election

Covering January 17-February 20
Carol Alvarado Runoff Report

Raise: $581,969

Spend: $463,496

COH: $99,432

Report available here.

Alvarado's Major Donors:

$184,000 from TLR PAC

$54,317 from Stand for Children PAC (in-kind)

$20,000 from Barbara and John Nau

$14,000 from payday lenders

$10,000 from HillCo PAC

$10,000 from Ryan Texas PAC

Sylvia Garcia Runoff Report

Raise: $662,686

Spend: $641,435

COH: $119,227

Report available here.

Garcia's Major Donors:

$356,750 from the Mostyn Firm

$117,000 from Texas Organizing Project (in-kind)

$8500 from AFSCME's federal PAC

$5000 from the Teamsters

$5000 from the Plumber's union

$2500 each from ILA Local 24 & 28

$2000 from SEIU's federal PAC

Below the jump, find out more about Alvarado's donors and their long history of working against Democratic ideals and — and usually candidates, too.Who Are Garcia's Donors?

Reading Sylvia Garcia's report, it's clear that the bulk of her support comes from the trial lawyers and labor groups, the traditional source of funding for Democratic candidates here in Texas. She also has some solid support from engineering firms. Texas Organizing Project also in-kinded an extensive field organizing campaign to boost their endorsed candidate. There isn't much that's too surprising here, and nothing that gives me serious qualms about who wants her to get elected.

Who Are Alvarado's Donors?

Not familiar with all of the players on her list? HillCo PAC has a primarily Republican donor history, is primarily funded by Republican mega-donor Bob Perry, to the tune of $2 million. Ryan Texas PAC supports primarily Republican candidates. Perry appointee John Nau is a major donor to Rick Perry, Greg Abbott, and David Dewhurst, as well as to the Beer Alliance of Texas PAC in efforts to maintain his corporate interests as one of the Big Beer distributors.

Alvarado also seems to have won the support of the vast majority of corporate donors here in Texas. She's receiving substantial money from the oil industry, namely BP Corporation, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Company, Valero. She received $7,500 from Cash America International, $1500 from EZCORP, and another $5000 from Texas Consumer Lenders PAC. She's even taking money from “Big Beer” — i.e. the wholesale distributors that have worked hard to block deregulation of Texas beer laws to enable craft and microbreweries to flourish and expand their market.

Earlier today, Texans for Public Justice reported that Alvarado's #2 cumulative contributor is Stand for Children PAC, which gave over $54,000 to Alvarado. The organization's founder boasted about spending millions to destroy teachers' collective bargaining rights in the Illinois legislature.

Then, of course, there's TLR.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform, or TLR, is dedicated to “tort reform,” which has delivered none of its promised cost savings, and so far only managed to deny individuals the opportunity to seek redress in our civil court system.

TLR wakes up in the morning dedicated to serving the interests of corporations over the individuals who might have cause to pursue legal action against them. They're also dedicated to shutting down the trial lawyers themselves — traditionally the most significant donors to Democratic candidates and causes in Texas — preventing from making any money off jury verdicts. The direct result of their efforts is that Democrats have a harder time getting elected.

Whether barriers to justice or destruction of the Democratic party rankles you more, we can agree that TLR doesn't have Texans or Democrats' best interests at heart.

Look at TLR's 2012 General Election endorsements. This is the very group that specifically endorsed the likes of Donna Campbell for State Senate and Debbie Riddle for State Representative. They endorsed Mark Shelton over Wendy Davis. They endorsed Robert Thomas over Donna Howard. Dee Margo over Joe Moody. They didn't endorse in every race, but when they did they overwhelming endorsed Republicans over Democrats in crucial races.

Earlier this week we reported that State Senator Larry Taylor, a Republican Senator, was blockwalking for Carol Alvarado. It appears that we have the answer: Taylor, a TLR stooge, apparently wants Alvarado in the Senate as bad as their shared financial backers do.

For TLR and the special interests listed here, it's all about their bottom line, and they think their interests will be better served with Carol Alvarado in the State Senate.

This is a staunchly Democratic district. Strong districts like this are where we as partisan Democrats can elect those who will be most true to our principles and stand up for what we believe in. The finance reports make clear that Alvarado has taken substantial cash from individuals and organizations that usually devote their efforts to defeating Democrats or fighting our core progressive values. That gives me serious pause about her ability to advance our Democratic goals.

Not all of Alvarado's donors and supporters oppose our Democratic causes. I like and respect many of the Democrats lined up behind Alvarado. But I have serious qualms about the willingness of anti-Democratic causes to line up behind her and marshal such substantial resources — resources that are usually directed at defeating Democrats.

Some people seem to think that compromise is the best we can do as Democrats. I disagree.

On the backs of which Texans do we make these compromises? Our core values and constituencies are not to be sold to the highest bidder. Especially now, with renewed interest and support for turning Texas blue, we have an obligation to build the strongest, most progressive caucus we can, and grow it every step of the way, so that when we are in the majority, we have leaders ready to fight for our core values and never back down.

This is a strong Democratic district, and it's our duty to fight like hell to elect the best Democrat that we can, one who will stand up for her constituents and against the special interests who care only about profit and not our shared public good. It's clear that the worst special interests have chosen their side.

Let's hope Democratic voters know who's more likely to be on theirs.  


About Author

Katherine Haenschen

Katherine Haenschen is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas, where she studies political participation on digital media. She previously managed successful candidate, issue, voter registration, and GOTV campaigns in Central Texas. She is also a fan of UCONN women's basketball and breakfast tacos.


  1. In Other News…

    …Steve Mostyn purchased Burnt Orange Report.  Congrats ya'll!  You can stop running video game ads on the sides of the page!  Has to be a relief.  🙂

    (I love that he is not mentioned in the story, but is the first tag at the bottom of the story.  Completely cracks me up.  But at least I understand why the attacks are happening now.  I'd been busy with other things and was a little slower than I should have been in seeing what's happening here.  And I'm not knocking Mostyn or what he does; but would it really hurt you to be a little more upfront about things?)

    • If Mostyn purchased BOR…
      …he forgot to send the check.

      Seriously though, it would be nice to have some larger investors, large enough to not have to keep begging for money to keep this outfit going. If you'd like to help arrange some meetings to sustainably fund this site's writers and progressive agenda, my email is It's something that Katherine and I (and the staff) have discussed. We're doing our part to produce materials, budgets, and plans to present to those who can fund our work. Are you willing to help with that David?

  2. Bob Perry
    Sylvia Garcia didn't seem to have such a strong objection to Bob Perry's money when she took at least $20,000 of it during her Commissioner races. And her Commissioner money is very relevant now because she's spending it on this race. She's able to do that because she was sitting on $1 million when she lost a Democratic seat on the Commissioner's Court.

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