After staff members at the Texas Ethics Commission recommended dismissing all actions against Empower Texans last month, the commissioners made it official today.
By a vote of 7-0, with Straus appointee Steve Wolens abstaining, the TEC dismissed its complaints against Empower Texans. The move appeared designed to remove jurisdiction from the Third Court of Appeals which was set to shut down the investigation with a legal opinion favorable to Empower Texans.
The TEC halted activities in one theatre of its war against free speech, but more still remain.
The crusade against conservatives began after complaints were filed against Empower Texans and its president, Michael Quinn Sullivan, by former State Reps. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) and Vicki Truitt (R-Southlake). The complaints alleged the organization had morphed into an unregistered political committee by spending too much of its time speaking about legislators’ voting records.
The TEC embraced Keffer and Truitt’s convoluted legal theory and used its resources against Empower Texans, flouting the state and federal constitutions to demand that the organization turn over the identities of its donors. Empower Texans fought back, knowing that establishment lawmakers would attempt to threaten, harass, and intimidate the donors into silence.
Now Empower Texans is going on the offensive with Joe Nixon, legal counsel for Empower Texans, previewing the coming fight to hold the TEC members accountable.
“One reporter asked me, ‘Does it feel good to have a monkey off your back?’” said Nixon. “I told him the monkey is off our back and now there’s a gorilla on theirs.”
After the hearing, Sullivan and Nixon went live on Facebook to comment on the dismissal. Video of their conversation can be viewed here.