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Texans’ First Amendment rights should be free from government regulation, and that includes burdensome reporting requirements. Currently, state campaign finance and lobby registration laws interfere with Texans’ freedom of speech and freedom to petition government.

The proper goals of these laws can and should be accomplished by imposing reporting requirements on public officials instead of citizens.

Gifts from lobbyists should either be prohibited, or public officials should be required to report them. While it will always be hard to hold lobbyists who cheat on their reports accountable, public officials can be held accountable at the ballot box.

Each public official, and their employees, should be required to immediately report every meal or other gift they receive, the identity of any lobbyist that paid for it, and the purpose for which it was received.

Public officials are already required to maintain calendars related to their public duties. To the extent Texans desire to know who is lobbying legislators on behalf of various causes, this can be accomplished by requiring legislators to ensure their calendars are accurate and up-to-date, and that they disclose meetings between themselves and lobbyists.

In the election context, we already require candidates, not donors, to report all campaign contributions. This should be the rule across-the-board. All reporting of contributions and expenditures made with a candidate’s knowledge should be reported by the candidate, not by citizens.

Public officials will always have better access to the legal advice required in order to make accurate reports. They also can be held accountable if they choose to skirt the law.

Lawmakers should stop pushing reporting requirements off on citizens in ways that interfere with their constitutional rights, and impose any legitimate reporting requirements on themselves.

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