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Special interest donors are covering much of the cost for Texas Democratic lawmakers to stay in pricey Washington, D.C., hotel rooms, but Texas taxpayers are still losing close to $500,000 on expenses for a legislative session that isn’t happening.
Texas lawmakers who fled the legislative session in Austin for the nation’s capital ultimately will have to report all of the private money pouring in for the self-professed “fugitive” Democrats. That amount includes at least $600,000 from the political action committee of former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who ran for president in 2020.
These Democrats have raised money from other sources as well to cover lodging, meals, and other expenses.
Racking up costs and private donations, more than 50 Democrats, along with 12 paid staffers, on Friday marked the halfway point of the special legislative session they abandoned back home. Democrats fled to deny the state Legislature’s Republican majority a quorum to vote on an election reform bill.
The session ends Aug. 6, after which the Democrats are expected to return home.
— Texas House Democrats (@TexasHDC) July 23, 2021
One Texas House Democrat said it’s costing the group $10,000 per day for hotel rooms and meals.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take to beat back Republicans’ anti-voter bills. That’s why I need your help,” state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer said in a tweet as the lawmakers were leaving Texas. “Every day we are away costs $10,000 for hotel and meals.”
We don't know how long it's going to take to beat back Republicans' anti-voter bills. That's why I need your help.
— TMF (@TMFtx) July 13, 2021
Burden for Texas Taxpayers
As of Friday, the midpoint of the special session, taxpayers in Texas were spending at least $476,630 on a session that isn’t happening because of House Democrats’ exodus, according to an ongoing tally by GOP state Rep. Jared Patterson.
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Just so you know…. pic.twitter.com/w4ResGfA89
— Rep. Jared Patterson (@JaredLPatterson) July 23, 2021
More than five dozen House Democrats and paid aides took the trip to Washington. But state Rep. Chris Turner, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said on Twitter, “No tax dollars have been used for travel, meals, or any other accommodations.”
A3: No tax dollars have been used for travel, meals, or any other accommodations.
Read more here: https://t.co/lBwP4za58f.
— Chris Turner (@ChrisGTurner) July 22, 2021
Texas is still losing money from a special session that isn’t happening because Democrats flew to Washington, Patterson explained.
“A session costs $43,000 per day and that equals a teacher’s salary,” the GOP lawmaker told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “This is a conservative estimate that just looks at a couple of components.”
Those two components are the daily per diem of $221 for every day that a legislator is in session. The other is the increased budget to operate legislative offices during a special session.
“I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s better to choose fundraising in D.C. and lobbying Congress over their constituents in Texas,” Patterson said. “Texans believe you should show up for work.”
A small number of lawmakers reportedly said they would pay back their per diem to the state treasury.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Patterson said of Democrats’ forgoing their pay. “They haven’t yet, and have to fill out the paperwork to do so.”
KHOU-TV News reported that all the Texas legislators are continuing to receive their per diems.
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The Texas House Democratic Caucus did not respond to inquiries from The Daily Signal for this article.
Rules for Disclosure
Texas Democrats have 30 days to report campaign contributions after the end of the session, set for Aug. 6. However, Texas lawmakers have until next April to report gifts—or something of value—in annual financial disclosures.
Ethics experts say private donors covering the cost of transportation, hotels, and meals most likely would be an in-kind campaign contribution to the state legislators, as opposed to a gift.
In addition to O’Rourke’s Powered by People PAC, the Texas House Democratic Caucus, the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, and the Texas Legislative Black Caucus are raising money for the Washington trip, The Texas Tribune reported.
“Whether something given to an officeholder is reported as a political contribution or reported as a gift depends on the intent for which it is given,” J.R. Johnson, general counsel for the Texas Ethics Commission, told The Daily Signal in an email, adding:
If something is given to an officeholder with the intent that it be used either in connection with a campaign for elective office or to defray expenses incurred in connection with holding an office, then the officeholder typically must report it as a political contribution.
On the other hand, if something is given to an officeholder for any other purpose, the officeholder must report it as a gift, unless an exception applies.
Even though the money coming to the Texas Democrats isn’t expressly for campaign purposes, it is being used for matters related to their legislative jobs.
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The Texas lawmakers met with Vice President Kamala Harris and with congressional Democrats to lobby for passage of national legislation to nullify most state voter ID laws and expand the controversial practice of ballot harvesting, among many other provisions.
“So, whether something is a political contribution or a gift depends on the specific facts, but if it’s intended to cover a cost related to any activity performed in connection with the public office, then it is a political contribution,” Johnson, the Texas Ethics Commission counsel, said.
Special Session Agenda
The special session in Texas wasn’t only to consider the election reform legislation. Democrats’ absence also is preventing votes on a foster care bill, bail reform legislation, a property tax cut, a legislative staff budget, and a boost to state retiree pensions, noted Chad Ennis, senior fellow for the Election Protection Project at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Ennis said the Texas election reform proposal would expand minimum in-person, early-voting hours; ban drive-through and 24-hour voting; outlaw paid ballot harvesting, in which political employees are paid per completed ballot returned to election officials; and apply voter ID standards to mail-in ballots.
“People who are engaged want [Texas House Democrats] to come back. If you debate this, if you lose, you lose,” Ennis told The Daily Signal in a phone interview. “Or you might get concessions. Leaving the state is not selling with the public.”
American Patriots Uniting to Fight Tyranny from, Well, Everywhere
We’re building a new conservative news network. Based on responses from fellow patriots, we’re heading in the right direction.
It may be hard to believe based on what we’re seeing around the nation today, but there are many reasons to be hopeful. First and foremost, the false narrative that most of America hates traditional values or the foundations of our nation are finally being proven false. Despite the best efforts of globalists and Neo-Marxists, patriotic Americans are starting to unify in droves. Meanwhile, Joe Biden can barely muster a half-filled auditorium to deliver his message to the scant few watching CNN and the paid shills in the “crowd.”
The “silent majority” that drove Donald Trump to victory in 2016 and 2020 (yes, he won by a landslide but was robbed along with the American people) is finally starting to realize we cannot stay silent any longer. We used to win with our votes, but those are being stolen. We used to win with truth, but the radical left and their agents in mainstream media, Big Tech, and academia are building a post-truth society to drown out reality. Today, we are waking up to the realization that only through direct action and fearlessly spreading the truth can we overcome the nefarious forces working against us.
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We are proud to be working our way up to the tip of the conservative media spear. Our network is growing. We’re establishing strong partnerships with like-minded news outlets and courageous journalists. Even as Big Tech suppresses us, the honest messages they’re trying to quash are finding their way to the eyes and ears of patriots across the nation. With the help of new content partners like The Epoch Times and The Liberty Daily, we’re starting to see a real impact.
Our network is currently comprised of nine sites:
- NOQ Report
- Conservative Playlist
- Truth. Based. Media.
- Freedom First Network
- Based Underground
- Uncanceled News
- American Conservative Movement
- Conservative Playbook
- Our Gold Guy
Some of our content is spread across all of these sites. Other pieces of content are unique. We write most of what we post but we also draw from those willing to allow us to share their quality articles, videos, and podcasts. We collect the best content from fellow conservative sites that give us permission to republish them. We’re not ego-driven; I’d much rather post a properly attributed story written by experts like Dr. Joseph Mercola or Natural News than rewrite it like so many outlets like to do. We’re not here to take credit. We’re here to spread the truth.
The slow and steady reopening of America is revealing there was a lot more economic hardship brought about from the Covd-19 lockdowns than most realize. While we continue to hope advertising dollars on the sites go up, it’s simply not enough to do things the right way. We are currently experiencing a gap between revenue and expenses that cannot be overcome by click-ads and MyPillow promos alone (promo code “NOQ” by the way).
To overcome our revenue gap and keep these sites running, our needs fluctuate between $2200-$7800 per month. May, 2021, for example, was amazing and we almost broke even. June, revenue was sluggish at best and we had to make up a big difference out of our pockets. But we’re not just trying to get out of the red. If and when we start getting enough contributions to expand, we will do just that. Very few get into journalism to try to get rich and we’re definitely not among those who do. Our success is driven by spreading the truth, profitable or not.
The best way you can help us grow and continue to bring proper news and opinions to the people is by donating. We appreciate everything, whether a dollar or $10,000. Anything brings us closer to a point of stability when we can hire writers, editors, and support staff to make the America First message louder. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal or Bitcoin as well. Bitcoin: 3A1ELVhGgrwrypwTJhPwnaTVGmuqyQrMB8
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Thank you and God Bless,
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Will America-First News Outlets Make it to 2023?
Things are looking grim for conservative and populist news sites.
There’s something happening behind the scenes at several popular conservative news outlets. 2021 was bad, but 2022 is proving to be disastrous for news sites that aren’t “playing ball” with the corporate media narrative. It’s being said that advertisers are cracking down, forcing some of the biggest ad networks like Google and Yahoo to pull their inventory from conservative outlets. This has had two major effects. First, it has cooled most conservative outlets from discussing “taboo” topics like Pandemic Panic Theater, voter fraud, or The Great Reset. Second, it has isolated those ad networks that aren’t playing ball.
Certain topics are anathema for most ad networks. Speaking out against vaccines or vaccine mandates is a certain path to being demonetized. Highlighting voter fraud in the 2020 and future elections is another instant advertising death penalty. Throw in truthful stories about climate change hysteria, Critical Race Theory, and the border crisis and it’s easy to understand how difficult it is for America-First news outlets to spread the facts, share conservative opinions, and still pay the bills.
Without naming names, I have been told of several news outlets who have been forced to either consolidate with larger organizations or who have backed down on covering certain topics out of fear of being “canceled” by the ad networks. I get it. This is a business for many of us and it’s not very profitable. Those of us who do this for a living are often barely squeaking by, so loss of additional revenue can often mean being forced to make cuts. That means not being able to cover the topics properly. Its a Catch-22: Tell the truth and lose the money necessary to keep telling the truth, or avoid the truth and make enough money to survive. Those who have chosen survival simply aren’t able to spread the truth properly.
We will never avoid the truth. The Lord will provide if it is His will. Our job is simply to share the facts, spread the Gospel, and educate as many Americans as possible while exposing the forces of evil.
To those who have the means, we ask that you please donate. We have options available now, but there is no telling when those options will cancel us. We just launched a new GiveSendGo page. We also have our GivingFuel page. There have been many who have been canceled by PayPal, but for now it’s still an option. Your generosity is what keeps these sites running and allows us to get the truth to the masses. We’ve had great success in growing but we know we can do more with your assistance.
Thank you, and God Bless!