Political parties in Texas could be subject to more government regulation if a proposed bill becomes law. House Bill 4255, by State Rep. Stephanie Klick (R–Fort Worth), would give county party chairmen control over all party bank accounts.
While this may seem innocuous at first, the bill is unwarranted government regulation of political parties and could be detrimental to the ability of county parties to function properly. Many Republican Party officials have come out against it, arguing that the party should decide how they spend their money, not the government.
Currently county parties mostly have the freedom to decide how they organize themselves, including who controls the bank accounts. The county executive committee, elected in the primary and composed of the precinct chairs and county chairman, is the governing body of the party and adopts bylaws to determine how the party is structured and how money will be spent. The money ultimately belongs to the CEC, not the chairman.
HB 4255 would also prevent CECs from protecting the party’s assets from a rogue chairman and allow even an unqualified or irresponsible chairman to have complete access to all party funds. There is already an example of where this has happened.
In 2016, vulgar conspiracy theorist Rob Morrow defeated then-Travis County chairman James Dickey in a freak election, despite Morrow’s constant sexually inappropriate social media posts and bizarre conspiracy theories, and the fact that he never campaigned.
In order to prevent Morrow, who wore a jester’s hat to his swearing-in, from causing damage to the party, the Travis County precinct chairs changed their bylaws to take power away from him and created a new bank account so Morrow would not be able to access the money, which could then be spent responsibly by the committee on party business.
CECs should be free to structure their county party in the way that works best for their situation. To use government regulation to bolster the chairman’s power at the expense of the CEC could have disastrous consequences.
HB 4255 is scheduled for a hearing before the House Elections Committee on April 8.