For everyday Texans, wading through campaign finance reports to learn who is funding their representative can be a difficult task. But a new website is hoping to change all of that by making existing data easy to search and by removing confusing political jargon.
Transparency Texas, a non-profit with a goal of shining a light on money in Texas politics, unveiled their new website this week. The organization, formerly known as AgendaWise, hopes to make it easy for Texans to see who is funding their elected representatives.
Located at TransparencyTexas.org, the group’s new website allows viewers to see which donors and political action committees are giving the most money, and to which candidates and elected officials.
In explaining why the organization’s work matters, Transparency Texas identifies two “glaring problems” in Texas politics:
“There are two glaring, related problems in Texas politics: (1) Candidates aren’t always who they say they are, and (2) voters and donors are inconsistent and sometimes confused regarding the candidates they support. As a result, many good Texas citizens – including some of the top political donors in the state – have given their votes and hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates who weren’t even on their side!
How can you know which Texas political candidates are really on your side? Someone wise once said, “where a man’s treasure is, there is his heart.” If you can clearly see where Texas political candidates get their money, and if you can clearly see what they do with it, then you can also clearly see where their hearts are—and whether or not they’re really on your side. Through Transparency Texas, you can actually do this. It’s easy—the information is here and readily accessible.”
In the past, Texans have been forced to use the website of the Texas Ethics Commission to search campaign finance data. As Transparency Texas says, the TEC website is “impossibly hard to navigate, confusing, and unclear.” In fact, a national study of all fifty states found that the Texas Ethics Commission is dead last in transparency and user satisfaction.
In addition to providing easy-to-use data, Transparency Texas will also be providing commentary about trends in political giving in Texas. The group’s writers are composed of a diverse group including students, stay-at-home moms, lawyers, accountants, and business people.