Texas Medical Association Still Hypocrites, Donating to Supporters of HB 2, Opponents of ACA

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Last month, Burnt Orange Report brought to light the Texas Medical Association's hypocritical practice of supporting candidates who actively oppose the organization's policy recommendations. TMA has publicly spoken out against HB 2 and opposes a total repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but that hasn't stopped it from supporting the authors of HB 2 and  state and federal level candidates who want to repeal the ACA.

Despite an open invitation to TMA to respond to the facts we presented, we still have heard nothing from the organization thus far.

We have continued to keep an eye on TMA's behavior during the March primary election cycle to see whether TMA's hypocrisy would persist–and indeed it did. During the 2014 primaries, the Texas Medical Association endorsed and financially supported many candidates who have actively undermined policy positions TMA claims to support.

TMA is a bipartisan organization, and to its credit, it did also endorse and give money to a few opponents of HB 2 and supporters of the Affordable Care Act. Yet, this makes TMA's support of the first set of candidates all the more puzzling. TMA is an organization that wants to be taken seriously as a policy advocate–why, then, give money to candidates who sit firmly on opposite sides of the ideological spectrum?

The reason isn't clear, but what is clear is that TMA has continued to be quite generous to candidates on both sides of the aisle.

See which candidates received TMA support after the jump. BOR examined TMA's campaign finance reports from January, February, and March, all of which are publicly available online from the Texas Ethics Commission. We found that during the height of the primary election campaigns, TMA gave a great deal of money to several candidates who have actively sought to undermine TMA's policies on HB 2 and the Affordable Care Act. In addition, we looked at the Texas Medical Association PAC's endorsements in the 2014 primary election.

State Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), one of the authors of HB 2, received TMA's endorsement yet again. TMA also donated $1000 to his campaign.

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who attempted to fraudulently change Senate records to pass the first version of HB 2 after Wendy Davis's historic filibuster, also received TMA's endorsement. In addition, his campaign received over $10,000 from TMA in the months leading up to the election.

Another candidate of note who received exorbitant support from TMA was Dr. Mark Shelton, a former State Representative from HD 97 who is currently running to replace Wendy Davis in SD 10. Despite a history of voting for legislation TMA opposed (he voted in favor of the 2011 mandatory sonogram bill, which TMA publicly opposed), TMA has continued to give Shelton its unconditional support. In addition to an endorsement, Shelton received over $21,000 in the months leading up to the March primary.

State Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), whose history includes extreme opposition to the Affordable Care Act and introducing legislation that goes against TMA's recommendations on abortion and the uninsured, also was a recipient of TMA support. She was endorsed by TMA and received a $10,000 donation to her campaign.

State Senator Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) received over $15,000 from TMA in the months leading up to the March primary. Deuell has been one of the Texas Legislature's leading voices against the Affordable Care Act, calling it “an unmitigated disaster” that “must be repealed or defunded.”

These are just a few of the many candidates who received TMA money and endorsements in the primary election, despite voting for legislation that undermines TMA's policy recommendations.

However, there were also some notable anti-HB 2 legislators who also received support from TMA.

State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place), a moderate Republican who has “stood as a lone moderate voice in a sea of right-wing rhetoric” on women's health issues, is one such candidate. She's the only Republican who voted against HB 2 in 2013. In her primary race, she received an endorsement and $6000 from TMA.

State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) is another anti-HB 2 candidate who received TMA support. He vocally opposed HB 2, and memorably assisted Wendy Davis with a back brace during her historic filibuster. He received $5000 from TMA in the months leading up to the March primary.

Several other legislators who opposed HB 2 received TMA endorsements. This includes people such as Rep. Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), who gave a moving speech during the first special session last summer, and Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), who similarly spoke out against the abortion ban. In addition, TMA endorsed Rep. Lon Burnam (D-Fort Worth), who stood up to Rick Perry and other Republicans' (including fellow TMA endorsee Bob Deuell) efforts to impose extraneous rules on ACA navigators.

Nonetheless, it's clear that on the whole, TMA has given much more political and financial support to those on the right who have sought to undermine its policy recommendations.

TMA's election endorsement process remains baffling. TMA advocates for certain policies during legislative sessions, but then when it comes time to elect legislators, it endorses candidates who have actively opposed those policy recommendations. It's tough to be taken seriously as an advocate when the people you're advocating against are ones you paid to put into office.

As we've done previously, BOR invites TMA to respond with an explanation of its decision-making process in light of these facts.


About Author

Katie Singh

Katie grew up in Austin and has been involved in Texas politics since 2004. She has been a part of several campaigns, from state house races to working at President Obama's campaign headquarters in 2012. She loves public policy, public health, and tacos. Katie tweets from @kasingh19.

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