Reports show big money donated to Texas politicians

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas leaders collected millions of dollars in donations in 2015.

Newly released records show that Texas shattered records when it comes to campaign contributions.  They’re known as “the big 3″(Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and House Speaker Straus). They all received big money.

Governor Abbott has $22.5 million on hand. Nearly one third of that, $7.1 million has come in since the beginning of July.Last January, Governor Abbott appointed Robert Albritton to the Texas A&M Board of Regents. Albritton and his wife later gave Abbott’s campaign $250,000. The governor has yet to comment

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has $7.5 million in the coffers. He has gotten more than two-million of that since last summer. Toyota distributor Thomas Friedkin gave $100,000 to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s campaign. Critics say that industry helped kill a bill allowing Tesla to be sold in Texas.

Allen Blakemore from the Dan Patrick campaign says the Friedkin’s donated big sums before that bill and the campaign is hoping they continue to donate. The money given is not related to any legislation according to Blakemore.

House Speaker Joe Straus has nearly $9 million to spend in his district on the north side of San Antonio. $2.5 million has come in since July. The San Antonio Republican has a primary challenge this year. Critics say he’s too close to the sporting and gaming lobby. Julianna and Peter Holt – the owners of the San Antonio Spurs – gave Straus $50,000 each. We haven’t heard back from him either.

But in politics today – this is just part of the game.

“Most of the time it’s not a thing for a thing. It’s not quid pro quo. You can suspect it. But you don’t necessarily see it,” said Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey. He says many times big donors give because they see it as their civic duty. They want a certain item and they help elect someone who agrees with them.

“Some of it is the price of membership in the club. I want the Governor to take my call when I call him. I want the Lt. Governor to return my call,” said Ramsey, “It’s like that thing in the Godfather. I might not ever come to you for a favor… but I might.”

Just one more example: Border Health Politcal Action Committee gave tens of thousands of dollars to lawmakers across the board. In this budget, lawmakers paid many millions for a new medical school in the Rio Grande Valley.

But big money doesn’t pick political sides. Here are some Central Texas democrats and their finance reports.

Top donations given to Texas House of Representative democrat Celia Israel:

  • $5,000 Annie’s List Political Action Committee (PAC)
  • Two separate $1,000 donations from Blackridge
  • $1,500 Associated General Contractors of Texas PAC

Democrat Texas Attorney Kirk Watson’s top donations:

  • $10,000 Blackridge
  • $5,000 AFSCME People
  • $5,000 AT&T Texas PAC

Texas House Representative Donna Howard:

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