State Senator Attempts to Get Rid of His Own Amendment

Texas State Senator Mike Jackson added an amendment to the ethics bill (HB 1616) only 48 hours before the regular session ended and seems to be regretting that decision.  Now he wants Gov. Rick Perry to veto his own legislation. 

The amendment was written so that candidates would have been able to expunge from their record any complaint if the candidate could prove it was a mistake in good faith.  According to the bill, candidates would have 14 business days after a complaint was filed to “fix” their reports without penalty so long as there was no “intent to mislead or to misrepresent the information contained in the report.”

However, there was no limitation on how large of a donation could be dismissed and the bill would have the unintended consequence of allowing a candidate to hide a pattern of misreporting potentially embarrassing donations by claiming they were an accounting or typographical error or misunderstanding of reporting requirements.  The bill would also remove the incentives to accurately report campaign contributions and expenditures as well as reduce the Texas Ethics Commission’s revenue from fines.

If Jackson does not get a veto from Perry, he has placed an amendment on to the special session’s Fiscal Matters Senate bill (SB 1) to repeal his earlier amendment.  Although SB 1 is controversial in many respects, the new amendment is a bright spot for proponents of campaign finance reform. The amendment would have been destructive to the campaign process and allowed candidates a loophole in which to exploit. Campaign finance laws need to be reformed but not in this way. Sen. Jackson did well to fix his mistake with his amendment in the special session and should be recognized for owning up to it.