Recently, former Republican Party official Mark McCaig announced his defense of IRS-style attacks on conservatives. An employee of Democratic super funder Steve Mostyn, McCaig has been the public face opposing a variety of conservative reforms in recent years.

For many years, McCaig was a contrarian in the Republican Party – serving to obstruct conservative reforms on the State Republican Executive Committee – before he went to work directly for Mostyn. Under Mostyn, McCaig formed the website “Stop TLR” to oppose the tort reform group Texans for Lawsuit Reform. His efforts supporting Democrats led the organization he was formerly a member of, Young Conservatives of Texas, to denounce his efforts and disown him.

According to sources, last year McCaig attempted to defect and sell the “Stop TLR” trademarks to Texans for Lawsuit Reform but failed to find a buyer willing to pay him off. McCaig’s efforts to advance the Democratic Party agenda since that failed defection have been largely dormant and he was last seen supporting Tommy Merritt’s failed campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. Now McCaig has resurfaced as a supposed “fact checker” promoting the Obama narrative that government agencies should be used to attack conservative political critics.

McCaig’s first post on his new site represents an entry into the left wing campaign to suppress conservative speech, in which he defends the Texas Ethics Commission against the criticism of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and others.

In his post, McCaig decries attacks against the TEC by “paid political operatives.”

In reality, the TEC’s efforts to regulate speech have been criticized by Empower Texans, Texas Right to Life, Texas Home School Coalition, Texas Eagle Forum, Grassroots America We the People, Texas Values and in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times.

He claims that the TEC was “created by the Texas Constitution.” That statement is nonsense. The TEC was created in 1991 at the request of Governor Ann Richards (on advice of her “ethics advisor” Barbara Jordan). The ballot proposition sent to voters primarily focused on the new entity’s ability to set legislator salaries. It is doubtful that any Texan voting for the proposition imagined that they could someday be dragged into closed-door hearings where they would lack due process protections all because they chose to speak to their legislator or criticize an elected official.

McCaig flatly claims there is no connection between the TEC’s abuses and the activities of Lois Lerner and the IRS. Without elaboration, he argues that the TEC has “simply worked to enforce well established laws concerning public disclosure.” But the similarities between both scandals are obvious.

Lerner used the tools available to her at the IRS to harass conservative organizations and to demand their records – infamously demanding the contents of their prayers and all of their social media posts. The TEC – acting upon the complaints of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and Joe Straus’s cronies – sent similarly abusive subpoenas to TFR which were decried by a federal judge as being unenforceable in any court. Both efforts took place for political gain. Lerner ramped up her efforts after the TEA Party movement swept Democrats out of Congress in 2010. The TEC ramped up their efforts after conservatives started cleaning dishonest liberal Republicans out of office in 2010 and 2012.

McCaig, despite working for the top funder of Democratic candidates in Texas, wraps himself in the Republican Party of Texas platform, accusing TFR and other conservative groups of opposing the platform on disclosure. The platform calls for the “full disclosure of the amounts and sources of any campaign contributions to political candidates.” But conservative organizations like Texans for Fiscal Responsibility are legally banned from making campaign contributions to candidates. The TEC has not targeted “contributions” by conservative groups but rather has attacked their independent speech.

McCaig concludes his post by declaring that the TEC has not shown favoritism in its enforcement. This is a garbage assertion. The TEC frequently settles with establishment politicians for peanuts while attacking the conservative groups that come before it.

Mark McCaig joins other left wing commentators, including former LBJ press secretary Bill Moyers, in praising the TEC and its efforts to suppress speech.

Time will tell how serious Mark McCaig and his master Steve Mostyn are about defending the Texas Ethics Commission and speech suppression in Texas. One thing is certain though – they won’t be spreading the truth.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.


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