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John Carona

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John Carona
John Carona.jpg
Texas State Senate, District 16
In office
1997 - Present
Term ends
January 13, 2015
Years in position 17
Base salary$7,200/year
Per diem$150/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First elected1996
Next generalNovember 4, 2014
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Texas House of Representatives
1990 - 1996
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas-Austin, 1978
BirthdayDecember 14, 1955
Place of birthTexas City, TX
ProfessionExecutive Officer
Office website
John J. Carona (b. December 14, 1955) is a Republican member of the Texas State Senate, representing District 16. He was first elected to the chamber in 1996.


Carona graduated with a B.A. in insurance and real estate from the University of Texas at Austin in 1978.

In addition to being a senator, Carona is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Associa and has held that title since 1979. Prior to his election to the state senate, Carona was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1990 to 1996.[1]

Committee assignments


At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Carona served on the following committees:

Texas Committee Assignments, 2013
Business & Commerce, Chair



Carona's policy positions emphasize the transportation and infrastructure have proved important issues for . In 2008, Carona co-published an op-ed titled with Senator Kirk Watson titled the "Time is now to fix transportation" in the Austin American-Statesman in which his issue positions on transportation policy were laid out. To fight the problem of declining and outdated transportation infrastructure in Texas, Carona offered the following alternatives:[2]

• "End transportation funding diversions. The State Highway Fund has long provided money for the Department of Public Safety and other priorities. We must focus this money on roads and other transportation projects.
• Use bond funding transparently. A year ago, Texans voted to dedicate $5 billion in tax supported bonds to transportation projects. The Legislature should appropriate this money for its intended purpose and commit to using it with complete transparency and accountability.
• Support regional financing tools. Other than toll roads and privatization schemes, the state has provided few options for cities, counties and other local jurisdictions to pay for transportation. The Legislature should offer voter-approved funding mechanisms for regions to plan and pay for roads, rail lines and other projects.
• Rewrite the gas tax. Texas' primary source of transportation funding cannot provide for the state's transportation needs. The Legislature must have a serious debate about restructuring the motor fuels tax to reflect the enormity of our tasks by indexing it to inflation.
• Explore new alternatives. Texas must move past a 20th century model that relies so heavily on single-occupancy vehicles and work to create a truly comprehensive statewide system for moving people and freight. This should begin by funding the Rail Relocation Fund that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2005.
• Reform the Texas Department of Transportation. With its overt advocacy of privatization and occasional disregard for the Legislature, the department has rightly incurred the wrath of Texans and their representatives. Though we applaud the department's recent efforts to be more transparent and accountable, the Legislature must fundamentally reform the agency so that Texans are fully aware of its activities and never question its objectives."[2]



See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2014

Elections for 15 of the 31 seats in the Texas State Senate will take place in 2014. A primary election took place on March 4, 2014. The general election will take place on November 4, 2014. The signature-filing deadline for candidates wishing to run in these elections was December 9, 2013. Donald Huffines defeated incumbent John Carona in the Republican primary. Huffines will face Mike Dooling (L) in the general election.[3][4][5]

Prior to the March 4 primary, Huffines said Carona was too liberal and described the 18-year incumbent as out-of-touch in the district.[6] After Huffines declared for the seat, Carona said: "I’m surprised Mr. Huffines is running as a Republican considering that he spent a small fortune attacking Republicans in the 2012 presidential campaign, but I welcome a thorough debate on the issues facing Texans."[7] In 2012, Huffines helped form a SuperPAC that supported Ron Paul and spent more than $400,000 in the race.[6] Texas Monthly named Carona one of the worst legislators in 2013, pointing in part to his long absence during the session.[8]


See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2012

Carona ran in the 2012 election for Texas State Senate, District 16. Carona ran unopposed in the May 29 primary election and was unchallenged in the general election which took place on November 6, 2012.[9]


See also: Texas State Senate elections, 2008

On Nov. 4, 2008, Carona won election to the 16th District Seat in the Texas State Senate, defeating opponents Rain Minns and Paul Osborn.[9]

Carona raised $1,305,604 for his campaign while Minns raised $113,061 and Osborn raised $0.[10]

Texas State Senate, District 16 (2008)
Candidates Votes Percent
Green check mark transparent.png John Carona (R) 122,439 56.26%
Rain Minns (D) 89,346 41.05%
Paul Osborn (L) 5,825 2.67%

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Carona is available dating back to 1998. Based on available campaign finance records, Carona raised a total of $6,811,221 during that time period. This information was last updated on August 22, 2013.[11]

John Carona's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 Texas State Senate, District 16 Won $1,341,636
2010 Texas State Senate, District 16 Not up for election $1,069,144
2008 Texas State Senate, District 16 Won $1,305,604
2006 Texas State Senate, District 16 Not up for election $1,032,200
2004 Texas State Senate, District 16 Won $926,768
2002 Texas State Senate, District 16 Won $792,637
1998 Texas State Senate, District 16 Won $343,232
Grand Total Raised $6,811,221


Carona won re-election to the Texas State Senate in 2012. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $1,341,636.
Texas State Senate 2012 election - Campaign Contributions
Top contributors to John Carona's campaign in 2012
Texas Assocation Of Realtors$30,019
Andrews, Barry G$25,000
Aycox, Rod A$25,000
Time Warner Cable$16,000
Total Raised in 2012$1,341,636
Source:Follow the Money


Carona was not up for election to the Texas State Senate in 2010. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $1,069,144.


Carona won re-election to the Texas State Senate in 2008. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $1,305,604.


Carona was not up for election to the Texas State Senate in 2006. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $1,032,200.


Carona won re-election to the Texas State Senate in 2004. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $926,768.


Carona won re-election to the Texas State Senate in 2002. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $792,637.


Carona won re-election to the Texas State Senate in 1998. During that election cycle, Carona raised a total of $343,232.


Empower Texans Fiscal Responsibility Index

See also: Empower Texans Fiscal Responsibility Index

Empower Texans produces the Fiscal Responsibility Index as "a measurement of how lawmakers perform on size and role of government issues." The index uses "exemplar votes on core budget and free enterprise issues that demonstrate legislators' governing philosophy."[12] Legislators were graded along a 0 through 100 scale in 2013 and on an A through F grading scale in 2011.


Carona received a score of 60 in the 2013 Fiscal Responsibility Index, compared to the grade of B+ that Carona received for the 2011 Fiscal Responsibility Index.


John Carona received a grade of B+ on the 2011 Fiscal Responsibility Index.

  • 2011 Taxpayer Advocate. Carona was named a "2011 Taxpayer Advocate," which is "An award presented to by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility to legislators based on their strong rating on the most recent Fiscal Responsibility Index."


Carona and his wife, Helen, have five children: Joey, Jeff, Will, Kirsten and Kel.


University of Texas Law School

See also: Political favoritism in admissions to the University of Texas

Senator Carona was implicated in a Texas Watchdog December 2013 report on political favoritism at the University of Texas. Carona's son Jeffrey Steven Carona, along with two other sons of Texas state lawmakers, failed the Texas bar exam repeatedly after graduating from the University of Texas Law School. This was unusual for University of Texas Law School graduates, as less than 10 percent had to retake the exam in the eight years prior to 2013. State Senator Judith Zaffirini (D), to whom Carona has given over $30,000 in campaign contributions, and State Representative Jim Pitts (R) were also implicated in the report, as their sons had similar difficulties. The report found that between the three lawmakers' sons, they had taken the bar exam 10 times -- with only two passing the exam. The report was released following months of investigations into University Regent Wallace Hall and his FOIA requests of the University system. Hall implied that there were issues of clout and corruption within the Texas school system, alleging that legislators were using their political influence to affect law school admissions. The Watchdog report was issued following its investigation, which it said did not include details from Hall's FOIA requests.[13]

Private plane reimbursements

Carona owns a private plane. In 2008-2009, according to an investigation by Texas Watchdog, Carona used his personal plane to travel in Texas, and was reimbursed $17,000 by state taxpayers for the cost of the flights he took on his private plane between January 1, 2008-May 1, 2009. According to the watchdog website, Carona could have flown on cheaper commercial transportation for the flights in question. His most expensive flight was between Dallas and El Paso in July 2008, at a roundtrip cost of about $1,300.[14]

Relative to the flights, Carona said that he flies on his private plane because he has responsibilities in the state senate and in his job as president and CEO of Associa, a national firm that specializes in homeowner association management. Carona said, "Covering both responsibilities in an efficient fashion necessitates that I avoid canceled flights and long delays in airport terminals. Therefore, by necessity, I fly private aircraft whenever possible. It allows me to fulfill my duties, without disruption, to both my constituents and my clients."[14]

Other state senators who spent taxpayer money on noncommercial airfare include Carlos Uresti and Robert Duncan.

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Political offices
Preceded by
John Leedom
Texas Senate District 16
Succeeded by