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With the Texas Ethics Commission admitting in federal court filings this week that they do not have the authority to regulate non-profit organizations that speak out on policy and political issues, the president of Empower Texans has called on the agency to drop its lawsuit against them.

“Even as we decried their malicious attacks on our organization brought by cronies of House Speaker Joe Straus and a lobbyist for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, we attempted to comply with their absurd, unconstitutional requests for our records,” said Empower Texans’ president, Michael Quinn Sullivan.

Paul Hobby

TEC chair Paul Hobby

“A federal judge called their subpoenas ‘absurd,’ but they are now in state court attempting to force us to comply despite having told a different federal judge they do not have any authority to regulate groups like ours.”

On Monday, in a separate case involving a Travis County citizens’ group, the TEC argued to a federal court that they do not have the authority to regulate the non-profit organization as if it were a political action committee. That admission undercuts the theory of the TEC’s “case” against Empower Texans, according to General Counsel Tony McDonald.

“The Third Court of Appeals based in Austin has called the TEC’s theory of the case ‘an affront to the First Amendment,’” added McDonald.

Sullivan said the TEC must now drop its actions against Empower Texans.

“We gave the TEC everything we could, showed them they did not have a case, but they have used their process as a way to punish us for shining a light on their cronies in the Capitol,” said Sullivan. “I am calling on the TEC and its chairman, Paul Hobby, to drop enforcement of these absurd subpoenas, and to dismiss these vindictive, unconstitutional complaints against Empower Texans.”