Andy Cargile Visits Austin's Lobby Club - Texas Scorecard

Last week we introduced you to Neal Adams, the pay-for-play moderate puppeteer of Tarrant County. Since our story ran, left-wing blogger Bud Kennedy has rushed to Adams’ defense, calling him a “kingmaker.” Adam’s chosen one, Andy Cargile is challenging Taxpayer Champion Jonathan Stickland in next year’s Republican primary election for State Representative District 92.

Now, word comes that Cargile is seeking even more pay-for-play money, but this time he’s coming to Austin to get it. This Wednesday Cargile will hold a lobby fundraiser at the Austin Club, a popular establishment hangout.

It is no shock that Cargile is going to the lobby for help. Stickland’s principled fiscal conservatism threatens the lobby’s largesse so they’re sure to open their wallets to one extent or another. But there are two surprising things about Cargile’s fundraiser.

First, this appears to be Cargile’s first major event. To our knowledge he has not held a fundraiser in the district yet. A review of Cargile’s Facebook page shows one Sunday afternoon phonebank and two sparsely attended meet-and-greets. No amount of money can substitute for local campaigning. Cargile’s sparse activity suggests that those giving him money on Wednesday might be putting good money after bad.

Second, it is surprising who in the lobby, specifically, Cargile is choosing to cozy up with. A quick call to the Austin Club revealed that the reservation for Cargile’s fundraiser was made by Austin lobbyist Jay Propes.

Mr. Propes is a major lobbyist in Austin with a laundry list of clients. However, he is possibly most (in)famous as a lobbyist for State Senator John Corona’s Associations, Inc., a company that takes over and runs homeowners associations for profit. But Mr. Propes’s bad associations don’t stop there.

He is also a lobbyist for Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the Texas Association for Interior Design, the Texas Ophthalmological Association, and the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas, amongst others. This session, Propes fought to expand government regulation of the interior design industry that is designed to prevent competition even after the Sunset Commission said regulation of the industry should be eliminated. As a representative of the Ophthalmologists, Propes has fought for years to restrict the services licensed Optometrists are legally allowed to provide.

But Mr. Propes’s most troubling associations are with big casino interests. Propes has represented the Chickasaw Nation in the past and maintains a relationship with Capital Consultants. Just last week, our own Dustin Matocha exposed CapCon President Jim Shearer and his representation of the Chickasaw Nation, Global Gaming LSP, LLC, and Racing Partners of Texas, LLC in a piece regarding a Straus/Taxpayer-funded-lobbyist/Gambling Interest fundraiser held for Eric Opiela, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner.

Propes also has a long history of donating almost exclusively to moderate Republicans and Democrats. (Though he made a curious $9.20 contribution to TFR in 2010.)

We will be curious to see which establishment interests show up at Cargile’s fundraiser and how much cross-over there is between the list of cronies backing Opiela and those funneling money to Cargile. Either way, Cargile will need to account for where he is on the gambling issue and other special interest hobby horses. Mr. Cargile’s early associations with Austin’s lobby club suggest he will be no friend of the taxpayer.