Texas government sector lobbying

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Taxpayer-funded lobbying is government-to-government lobbying. Counties, cities, school districts, public facilities and associations of public employees frequently use public funds to influence legislation and appropriations at the state and federal levels.

This practice is controversial because public funds are spent to lobby for agendas not subject to direct approval by voters, and outcomes may be contrary taxpayers benefit.

Constitutionality of Texas government sector lobbying

See also: Constitutionality of government sector lobbying and Texas lawsuit on government sector lobbying

In 2006, the Texas State Legislature investigated the practice of government sector lobbying and concluded that it is a legitimate practice. However, the committees involved saw that there are still ethical and constitutional problems to be addressed.

Disclosure concerns

See also: Texas government sector lobbying report

Disclosure required of registered lobbyists on behalf of public entities is poorly enforced according to some reports (see below). These allegations also stress the difficulty of holding localities and public officials accountable when reporting regulations are relaxed.

In 2006, Americans for Prosperity, a free market and limited government advocacy group involved in investigating government sector lobbying, reported several flaws with the disclosure system the taxpayer-funded lobbyists are required to follow by the Texas Ethics Commission.[1] Some of these concerns included:

  • Lobbyists are not required to indicate whether their client receives public funding. "Entities such as schools obviously receive taxpayer funds, but others are not possible to discern without a FOIA request."[1]
  • Many entities are not subject to FOIA, even if they receive public dollars.
  • Many clients are alphabetized incorrectly throughout the TEC document.
  • Lobbyists for the same client will report that client’s name differently, making it impossible to locate clients in one location (for example, "The City of Austin" and "Austin City").

The Texas House of Representatives produced a report on ethical matters and government sector lobbying in 2006. The report found that there were glaring flaws in the disclosure and tracking of the spending of taxpayer funds. For example, local governments were reported as represented by a lobbyist without their knowledge, and some cities were listed twice ("City of Birmingham" and "Birmingham," for example). The report recommended open, full, and consistent disclosure of lobbying expenditures to be strictly enforced.

Taxpayer-funded lobbying associations

The following is a list of Texas government sector lobbying associations by type:

City and municipal

County

School

Other

References