The list of Greg Abbott’s campaign donors is starting to look like one giant conflict of interest.
First there’s Bank of America, who recently gave Abbott $15,000 on top of the $100,000 they had already given him. They have also been on the receiving end of substantial lenience from the governor’s office in repaying money owed on a Texas Enterprise Fund grant. TEF grantees were supposed to repay their funds if they were deemed out of compliance with certain requirements. But Bank of America was never held fully accountable. According to a state auditor’s report on the Texas Enterprise Fund, “auditors estimated that Bank of America should have repaid approximately $11.8 million, but the Office [of the Governor]required Bank of America to repay only $8.5 million upon termination.”
“It’s disgraceful but not surprising that Greg Abbott would allow Bank of America to keep millions of dollars from the Texas Enterprise Fund that they owe Texas taxpayers just because they are one of his major campaign contributors,” said Wendy Davis. “Despite being tasked by law as the watchdog for the Texas Enterprise Fund, Greg Abbott has taken more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the very companies he’s supposed to be watching and used his office to cover up the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars was funneled to politically connected companies. Greg Abbott just doesn’t understand that it’s still his job to protect taxpayer money even when it might make his biggest financial backers mad.”
Then there are the law firm donors who enjoy major contracts from the state. According to the Dallas Morning News, Fulbright & Jaworski and Vinson & Elkins have each given over $300,000 to Greg Abbott, and at the same time have benefited from tens of millions of dollars in legal fees that Abbott has sent their way. That would be $39 million for Fulbright & Jaworski, and $13 million for Vinson & Elkins. The Abbott campaign defended the connection by saying state agencies choose which law firms to use. But state agencies aren’t actually pick outside counsel without approval from Abbott’s office.
The icing on the cake is the broad support from payday lenders – over $340,000 of it. In a recent payday lender fundraiser, Abbott raked in over $30,000 in one night. It’s not just that payday lenders are already the worst to begin with. The issue goes much deeper, because Abbott’s office largely gave them a free pass to continue doing the terrible things that they’re already doing. Several years ago, his office wrote a letter saying that there are no limits on the fees payday lenders can charge. Wendy Davis, on the other hand, has fought for legislation that would limit fees, give cities more control to establish payday lending ordinances, allow the state to punish lenders who offer consumers unauthorized products, and otherwise curb the amount that lenders can extract from their typically very low-income customers.
“Greg Abbott has proven that he is an advocate for payday lenders that go after hardworking Texans, even members of our armed services, with predatory loan costs often exceeding 500 percent,” Wendy Davis said in a statement. No wonder the payday lenders want Abbott to win.
These examples are just a few of many. But together, they paint a picture of a man who believes in a quid pro quo relationship between the governor’s office and its campaign donors.