Baptist Christian Life Commission Files Ethics Complaint Against Gambling Ads Attacking Phil King

February 21, 2008

Source: Baptist General Convention of Texas


The Baptist General Convention of Texas Christian Life Commission filed a complaint today with the Texas Ethics Commission against Texans for Economic Development, a political action committee of racetrack owners and supporters of video slot machines, alleging the group could be using corporate funds inappropriately to try to influence legislative races.

In its last regular sworn report filed with the Texas Ethics Commission, Texans for Economic Development reported receiving political contributions from two corporations – Retama Development Corp., a Texas group, and Call Now, Inc. a Nevada corporation. Reports filed with the commission show, on their face, that the corporate contributions were accepted by the PAC for political purposes.

In Texas elections, use of corporate money for political purposes, to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate, is a third degree felony under state law. Had Texans for Economic Development intended to use the corporate funds for non-political purposes, such as administration of the political action committee, they would have reported the corporate contributions on Schedule C-2 of its sworn report. TED reported the contributions under Schedule A, which is for political contributions intended to be used for political expenditures.

“We have watched this PAC over the years, and been dismayed at the handful of individuals and entities that continue to push the slots-or-nothing agenda at racetracks in our state,” said Suzii Paynter, CLC director who filed the complaint. “This filing brings to light the gravity of the misuse of corporate funds in our political process.”

Other than one fee paid to the state, all expenditures of Texans for Economic Development previously reported to the Texas Ethics Commission have been used to support the election or defeat of candidates, Paynter said. No administrative costs for the PAC have been filed.

“We hope that the Ethics Commission’s staff will aggressively and thoroughly investigate this complaint to insure the laws of our state are protected and respected by the gambling industry.” said Weston Ware of Texans Against Gambling.

“The public has the right to know how the gamblers are using the corporate money they have received. At the very least, TED seems to have filed grossly inaccurate reports, which deceive the public as to the intended use of corporate funds. More urgently, the Texas Ethics Commission must determine with all due haste, whether corporate money has been used against certain House incumbents, who TED has openly bragged about targeting for defeat.”

In media reports, Texans for Economic Development Treasurer Tommy Azopardi admitted the group budgeted $1 million to impact about a 25 House races during this election cycle. Their advertisements running in some of these districts attempt to influence voters through the use of thinly veiled “issue” ads. Based on activity across the state, TED has clearly targeted Representatives Phil King, R-Weatherford, Betty Brown, R-Terrell and Nathan Macias, R-Bulverde, who are all opposed to the expansion of gambling in Texas.