Law:Title 15. Regulating Political Funds And Campaigns from Chapter 253. Restrictions On Contributions And Expenditures (Texas)

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Contents

Chapter 253. Restrictions On Contributions And Expenditures

Subchapter A. General Restrictions

Section  253.001.  Contribution Or Expenditure In Another's Name Prohibited.

(a) A person may not knowingly make or authorize a political contribution in the name of or on behalf of another unless the person discloses in writing to the recipient the name and address of the person actually making the contribution in order for the recipient to make the proper disclosure.

(b)  A person may not knowingly make or authorize a political expenditure in the name of or on behalf of another unless the person discloses in writing to the person on whose behalf the expenditure is made the name and address of the person actually making the expenditure in order for the person on whose behalf the expenditure is made to make the proper disclosure.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.002.  Unlawful Direct Campaign Expenditure.

(a) A person may not knowingly make or authorize a direct campaign expenditure.

(b)  This section does not apply to:

(1)  an individual making an expenditure authorized by Subchapter C;

(2)  a corporation or labor organization making an expenditure authorized by Subchapter D;

(3)  a candidate making or authorizing an expenditure for the candidate's own election;

(4)  a political committee; or

(5)  a campaign treasurer or assistant campaign treasurer acting in an official capacity.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.003.  Unlawfully Making Or Accepting Contribution.

(a) A person may not knowingly make a political contribution in violation of this chapter.

(b)  A person may not knowingly accept a political contribution the person knows to have been made in violation of this chapter.

(c)  This section does not apply to a political contribution made or accepted in violation of Subchapter F.

(d)  Except as provided by Subsection (e), a person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(e)  A violation of Subsection (a) or (b) is a felony of the third degree if the contribution is made in violation of Subchapter D.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 2, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.004.  Unlawfully Making Expenditure.

(a) A person may not knowingly make or authorize a political expenditure in violation of this chapter.

(b)  This section does not apply to a political expenditure made or authorized in violation of Subchapter F.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 2, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.005.  Expenditure From Unlawful Contribution.

(a) A person may not knowingly make or authorize a political expenditure wholly or partly from a political contribution the person knows to have been made in violation of this chapter.

(b)  This section does not apply to a political expenditure that is:

(1)  prohibited by Section 253.101; or

(2)  made from a political contribution made in violation of Subchapter F.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 2, eff. June 16, 1995.



Subchapter B. Candidates, Officeholders, And Political Committees

Section  253.031.  Contribution And Expenditure Without Campaign Treasurer Prohibited.

(a) A candidate may not knowingly accept a campaign contribution or make or authorize a campaign expenditure at a time when a campaign treasurer appointment for the candidate is not in effect.

(b)  A political committee may not knowingly accept political contributions totaling more than $500 or make or authorize political expenditures totaling more than $500 at a time when a campaign treasurer appointment for the committee is not in effect.

(c)  A political committee may not knowingly make or authorize a campaign contribution or campaign expenditure supporting or opposing a candidate for an office specified by Section 252.005(1) in a primary or general election unless the committee's campaign treasurer appointment has been filed not later than the 30th day before the appropriate election day.

(d)  This section does not apply to a political party's county executive committee that accepts political contributions or makes political expenditures, except that:

(1)  a county executive committee that accepts political contributions or makes political expenditures shall maintain the records required by Section 254.001; and

(2)  a county executive committee that accepts political contributions or makes political expenditures that, in the aggregate, exceed $25,000 in a calendar year shall file:

(A)  a campaign treasurer appointment as required by Section 252.001 not later than the 15th day after the date that amount is exceeded; and

(B)  the reports required by Subchapter F, Chapter 254, including in the political committee's first report all political contributions accepted and all political expenditures made before the effective date of the campaign treasurer appointment.

(e)  This section does not apply to an out-of-state political committee unless the committee is subject to Chapter 252 under Section 251.005.

(f)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.04, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 531, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.

Amended by:

Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 1079, Sec. 1, eff. June 18, 2005.



Section  253.032.  Limitation On Contribution By Out-of-state Committee.

(a) In a reporting period, a candidate, officeholder, or political committee may not knowingly accept political contributions totaling more than $500 from an out-of-state political committee unless, before accepting a contribution that would cause the total to exceed $500, the candidate, officeholder, or political committee, as applicable, receives from the out-of-state committee:

(1)  a written statement, certified by an officer of the out-of-state committee, listing the full name and address of each person who contributed more than $100 to the out-of-state committee during the 12 months immediately preceding the date of the contribution; or

(2)  a copy of the out-of-state committee's statement of organization filed as required by law with the Federal Election Commission and certified by an officer of the out-of-state committee.

(b)  This section does not apply to a contribution from an out-of-state political committee if the committee appointed a campaign treasurer under Chapter 252 before the contribution was made and is subject to the reporting requirements of Chapter 254.

(c)  A person who violates Subsection (a) commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(d)  A candidate, officeholder, or political committee shall include the statement or copy required by Subsection (a) as a part of the report filed under Chapter 254 that covers the reporting period to which Subsection (a) applies.

(e)  A candidate, officeholder, or political committee that accepts political contributions totaling $500 or less from an out-of-state political committee shall include as part of the report filed under Chapter 254 that covers the reporting period in which the contribution is accepted:

(1)  the same information for the out-of-state political committee required for general-purpose committees by Sections 252.002 and 252.003; or

(2)  a copy of the out-of-state committee's statement of organization filed as required by law with the Federal Election Commission and certified by an officer of the out-of-state committee.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 996, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.



Section  253.033.  Cash Contributions Exceeding $100 Prohibited.

(a) A candidate, officeholder, or specific-purpose committee may not knowingly accept from a contributor in a reporting period political contributions in cash that in the aggregate exceed $100.

(b)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.034.  Restrictions On Contributions During And Following Regular Legislative Session.

(a) During the period beginning on the 30th day before the date a regular legislative session convenes and continuing through the 20th day after the date of final adjournment, a person may not knowingly make a political contribution to:

(1)  a statewide officeholder;

(2)  a member of the legislature; or

(3)  a specific-purpose committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting a statewide officeholder or member of the legislature.

(b)  A statewide officeholder, a member of the legislature, or a specific-purpose committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting a statewide officeholder or member of the legislature may not knowingly accept a political contribution, and shall refuse a political contribution that is received, during the period prescribed by Subsection (a).  A political contribution that is received and refused during that period shall be returned to the contributor not later than the 30th day after the date of receipt.  A contribution made by United States mail or by common or contract carrier is not considered received during that period if it was properly addressed and placed with postage or carrier charges prepaid or prearranged in the mail or delivered to the contract carrier before the beginning of the period.  The date indicated by the post office cancellation mark or the common or contract carrier documents is considered to be the date the contribution was placed in the mail or delivered to the common or contract carrier unless proven otherwise.

(c)  This section does not apply to a political contribution that was made and accepted with the intent that it be used:

(1)  in an election held or ordered during the period prescribed by Subsection (a) in which the person accepting the contribution is a candidate if the contribution was made after the person appointed a campaign treasurer with the appropriate authority and before the person was sworn in for that office;

(2)  to defray expenses incurred in connection with an election contest; or

(3)  by a person who holds a state office or a member of the legislature if the person or member was defeated at the general election held immediately before the session is convened or by a specific-purpose political committee that supports or assists only that person or member.

(d)  This section does not apply to a political contribution made to or accepted by a holder of an office to which Subchapter F applies.

(e)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.05, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 249, Sec. 2.05, 2.06, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 426, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  253.0341.  Restrictions On Contributions To Legislative Caucuses During And Following Regular Legislative Session.

(a) During the period beginning on the 30th day before the date a regular legislative session convenes and continuing through the 20th day after the date of final adjournment, a person not a member of the caucus may not knowingly make a contribution to a legislative caucus.

(b)  A legislative caucus may not knowingly accept from a nonmember a contribution, and shall refuse a contribution from a nonmember that is received, during the period prescribed by Subsection (a).  A contribution that is received and refused during that period shall be returned to the contributor not later than the 30th day after the date of receipt.  A contribution made by United States mail or by common or contract carrier is not considered received during that period if it was properly addressed and placed with postage or carrier charges prepaid or prearranged in the mail or delivered to the contract carrier before the beginning of the period.  The date indicated by the post office cancellation mark or the common or contract carrier documents is considered to be the date the contribution was placed in the mail or delivered to the common or contract carrier unless proven otherwise.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(d)  A person who knowingly makes or accepts a contribution in violation of this section is liable for damages to the state in the amount of triple the value of the unlawful contribution.

(e)  In this section, "legislative caucus" means an organization that is composed exclusively of members of the legislature, that elects or appoints officers and recognizes identified legislators as members of the organization, and that exists for research and other support of policy development and interests that the membership hold in common. The term includes an entity established by or for a legislative caucus to conduct research, education, or any other caucus activity. An organization whose only nonlegislator members are the lieutenant governor or the governor remains a "legislative caucus" for purposes of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 43, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 28, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1134, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 249, Sec. 2.07, 2.08, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 426, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  253.035.  Restrictions On Personal Use Of Contributions.

(a) A person who accepts a political contribution as a candidate or officeholder may not convert the contribution to personal use.

(b)  A specific-purpose committee that accepts a political contribution may not convert the contribution to the personal use of a candidate, officeholder, or former candidate or officeholder.

(c)  The prohibitions prescribed by Subsections (a) and (b) include the personal use of an asset purchased with the contribution and the personal use of any interest and other income earned on the contribution.

(d)  In this section, "personal use" means a use that primarily furthers individual or family purposes not connected with the performance of duties or activities as a candidate for or holder of a public office. The term does not include:

(1)  payments made to defray ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in connection with activities as a candidate or in connection with the performance of duties or activities as a public officeholder, including payment of rent, utility, and other reasonable housing or household expenses incurred in maintaining a residence in Travis County by members of the legislature who do not ordinarily reside in Travis County, but excluding payments prohibited under Section 253.038; or

(2)  payments of federal income taxes due on interest and other income earned on political contributions.

(e)  Subsection (a) applies only to political contributions accepted on or after September 1, 1983. Subsection (b) applies only to political contributions accepted on or after September 1, 1987.

(f)  A person who converts a political contribution to the person's personal use in violation of this section is civilly liable to the state for an amount equal to the amount of the converted contribution plus reasonable court costs.

(g)  A specific-purpose committee that converts a political contribution to the personal use of a candidate, officeholder, or former candidate or officeholder in violation of this section is civilly liable to the state for an amount equal to the amount of the converted contribution plus reasonable court costs.

(h)  Except as provided by Section 253.0351 or 253.042, a candidate or officeholder who makes political expenditures from the candidate's or officeholder's personal funds may reimburse those personal funds from political contributions in the amount of those expenditures only if:

(1)  the expenditures from personal funds were fully reported as political expenditures, including the payees, dates, purposes, and amounts of the expenditures, in the report required to be filed under this title that covers the period in which the expenditures from personal funds were made; and

(2)  the report on which the expenditures from personal funds are disclosed clearly designates those expenditures as having been made from the person's personal funds and that the expenditures are subject to reimbursement.

(i)  "Personal use" does not include the use of contributions for:

(1)  defending a criminal action or prosecuting or defending a civil action brought by or against the person in the person's status as a candidate or officeholder; or

(2)  participating in an election contest or participating in a civil action to determine a person's eligibility to be a candidate for, or elected or appointed to, a public office in this state.

(j), (k) Repealed by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.20, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.06, eff. Jan. 1, 1992; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 996, Sec. 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 240, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.0351.  Loans From Personal Funds.

(a) A candidate or officeholder who makes political expenditures from the candidate's or officeholder's personal funds may report the amount expended as a loan and may reimburse those personal funds from political contributions in the amount of the reported loan.

(b)  Section 253.035(h) applies if the person does not report an amount as a loan as authorized by Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 996, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 241, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.036.  Officeholder Contributions Used In Connection With Campaign.

An officeholder who lawfully accepts officeholder contributions may use those contributions in connection with the officeholder's campaign for elective office after appointing a campaign treasurer.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.037.  Restrictions On Contribution Or Expenditure By General-purpose Committee.

(a) A general-purpose committee may not knowingly make or authorize a political contribution or political expenditure unless the committee has:

(1)  filed its campaign treasurer appointment not later than the 60th day before the date the contribution or expenditure is made; and

(2)  accepted political contributions from at least 10 persons.

(b)  A general-purpose committee may not knowingly make a political contribution to another general-purpose committee unless the other committee is listed in the campaign treasurer appointment of the contributor committee.

(c)  Subsection (a) does not apply to a political party's county executive committee that is complying with Section 253.031 or to a general-purpose committee that accepts contributions from a multicandidate political committee (as defined by the Federal Election Campaign Act) that is registered with the Federal Election Commission, provided that the general-purpose committee is in compliance with Section 253.032.

(d)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 531, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.



Section 253.038.  Payments Made To Purchase Real Property Or To Rent Certain Real Property Prohibited.

(a) A candidate or officeholder or a specific-purpose committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting the candidate or officeholder may not knowingly make or authorize a payment from a political contribution to purchase real property or to pay the interest on or principal of a note for the purchase of real property.

(a-1)  A candidate or officeholder or a specific-purpose committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting the candidate or officeholder may not knowingly make or authorize a payment from a political contribution for the rental or purchase of real property from:

(1)  a person related within the second degree by consanguinity or affinity, as determined under Chapter 573, Government Code, to the candidate or officeholder; or

(2)  a business in which the candidate or officeholder or a person described by Subdivision (1) has a participating interest of more than 10 percent, holds a position on the governing body, or serves as an officer.

(b)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

(c)  This section does not apply to a payment made in connection with real property that was purchased before January 1, 1992.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.07, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1087, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1087, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2007.



Section  253.039.  Contributions In Certain Public Buildings Prohibited.

(a) A person may not knowingly make or authorize a political contribution while in the Capitol or a courthouse to:

(1)  a candidate or officeholder;

(2)  a political committee; or

(3)  a person acting on behalf of a candidate, officeholder, or political committee.

(b)  A candidate, officeholder, or political committee or a person acting on behalf of a candidate, officeholder, or political committee may not knowingly accept a political contribution, and shall refuse a political contribution that is received, in the Capitol or a courthouse.

(c)  This section does not prohibit contributions made in the Capitol or a courthouse through the United States postal service or a common or contract carrier.

(d)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(h)  In this section, "courthouse" means any building owned by the state, a county, or a municipality, or an office or part of a building leased to the state, a county, or a municipality, in which a justice or judge sits to conduct court proceedings.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.07, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1219, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  253.040.  Separate Accounts.

(a) Each candidate or officeholder shall keep the person's campaign and officeholder contributions in one or more accounts that are separate from any other account maintained by the person.

(b)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 249, Sec. 2.09, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  253.041.  Restrictions On Certain Payments.

(a) A candidate or officeholder or a specific-purpose committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting the candidate or officeholder may not knowingly make or authorize a payment from a political contribution if the payment is made for personal services rendered by the candidate or officeholder or by the spouse or dependent child of the candidate or officeholder to:

(1)  a business in which the candidate or officeholder has a participating interest of more than 10 percent, holds a position on the governing body of the business, or serves as an officer of the business; or

(2)  the candidate or officeholder or the spouse or dependent child of the candidate or officeholder.

(b)  A payment that is made from a political contribution to a business described by Subsection (a) and that is not prohibited by that subsection may not exceed the amount necessary to reimburse the business for actual expenditures made by the business.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.07, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.



Section  253.042.  Restrictions On Reimbursement Of Personal Funds And Payments On Certain Loans.

(a) A candidate or officeholder who makes political expenditures from the candidate's or officeholder's personal funds may not reimburse those personal funds from political contributions in amounts that in the aggregate exceed the following amounts for each election in which the person's name appears on the ballot:

(1)  for a statewide office other than governor, $250,000; and

(2)  for governor, $500,000.

(b)  A candidate or officeholder who accepts one or more political contributions in the form of loans, including an extension of credit or a guarantee of a loan or extension of credit, from one or more persons related to the candidate or officeholder within the second degree by affinity or consanguinity may not use political contributions to repay the loans in amounts that in the aggregate exceed the amount prescribed by Subsection (a).

(c)  The total amount of both reimbursements and repayments made by a candidate or officeholder under this section may not exceed the amount prescribed by Subsection (a).

(d)  A person who is both a candidate and an officeholder covered by Subsection (a) may reimburse the person's personal funds or repay loans from political contributions only in one capacity.

(e)  This section does not prohibit the payment of interest on loans covered by this section at a commercially reasonable rate, except that interest on loans from a candidate's or officeholder's personal funds or on loans from the personal funds of any person related to the candidate or officeholder within the second degree by affinity or consanguinity is included in the amount prescribed by Subsection (a), (b), or (c).

(f)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor.

(g)  The commission shall study possible restrictions on amounts of reimbursements under Subsection (a) in connection with the offices of state senator and state representative and shall make appropriate recommendations to the legislature on those matters.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.07, eff. Jan. 1, 1992. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 242, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.043.  Political Contributions Used In Connection With Appointive Office.

A former candidate or former officeholder who lawfully accepts political contributions may use those contributions to make an expenditure to defray expenses incurred by the person in performing a duty or engaging in an activity in connection with an appointive office of a state board or commission.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 249, Sec. 2.09, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Subchapter C. Individuals

Section  253.061.  Direct Expenditure Of $100 Or Less.

Except as otherwise provided by law, an individual not acting in concert with another person may make one or more direct campaign expenditures in an election from the individual's own property if:

(1)  the total expenditures on any one or more candidates or measures do not exceed $100; and

(2)  the individual receives no reimbursement for the expenditures.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 243, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.062.  Direct Expenditure Exceeding $100.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by law, an individual not acting in concert with another person may make one or more direct campaign expenditures in an election from the individual's own property that exceed $100 on any one or more candidates or measures if:

(1)  the individual complies with Chapter 254 as if the individual were a campaign treasurer of a political committee; and

(2)  the individual receives no reimbursement for the expenditures.

(b)  An individual making expenditures under this section is not required to file a campaign treasurer appointment.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 864, Sec. 244, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.063.  Travel Expense.

A direct campaign expenditure consisting of personal travel expenses incurred by an individual may be made without complying with Section 253.062(a)(1).

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Subchapter D. Corporations And Labor Organizations

Section 253.091.  Corporations Covered.

This subchapter applies only to corporations that are organized under the Texas Business Corporation Act, the Texas For-Profit Corporation Law, the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act, the Texas Nonprofit Corporation Law, federal law, or law of another state or nation.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 481, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2007.



Section  253.092.  Treatment Of Incorporated Political Committee.

If a political committee the only principal purpose of which is accepting political contributions and making political expenditures incorporates for liability purposes only, the committee is not considered to be a corporation for purposes of this subchapter.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.093.  Certain Associations Covered.

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, the following associations, whether incorporated or not, are considered to be corporations covered by this subchapter: banks, trust companies, savings and loan associations or companies, insurance companies, reciprocal or interinsurance exchanges, railroad companies, cemetery companies, government-regulated cooperatives, stock companies, and abstract and title insurance companies.

(b)  For purposes of this subchapter, the members of the associations specified by Subsection (a) are considered to be stockholders.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.094.  Contributions And Expenditures Prohibited.

(a) A corporation or labor organization may not make a political contribution or political expenditure that is not authorized by this subchapter.

(b)  A corporation or labor organization may not make a political contribution or political expenditure in connection with a recall election, including the circulation and submission of a petition to call an election.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.095.  Punishment Of Agent.

An officer, director, or other agent of a corporation or labor organization who commits an offense under this subchapter is punishable for the grade of offense applicable to the corporation or labor organization.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.096.  Contribution On Measure.

A corporation or labor organization may make campaign contributions from its own property in connection with an election on a measure only to a political committee for supporting or opposing measures exclusively.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.097.  Direct Expenditure On Measure.

A corporation or labor organization not acting in concert with another person may make one or more direct campaign expenditures from its own property in connection with an election on a measure if the corporation or labor organization makes the expenditures in accordance with Section 253.061 or 253.062 as if the corporation or labor organization were an individual.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.098.  Communication With Stockholders Or Members.

(a) A corporation or labor organization may make one or more direct campaign expenditures from its own property for the purpose of communicating directly with its stockholders or members, as applicable, or with the families of its stockholders or members.

(b)  An expenditure under this section is not reportable under Chapter 254.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.099.  Nonpartisan Voter Registration And Get-out-the-vote Campaigns.

(a) A corporation or labor organization may make one or more expenditures to finance nonpartisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns aimed at its stockholders or members, as applicable, or at the families of its stockholders or members.

(b)  An expenditure under this section is not reportable under Chapter 254.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.100.  Expenditures For General-purpose Committee.

(a) A corporation, acting alone or with one or more other corporations, may make one or more political expenditures to finance the establishment or administration of a general-purpose committee.  In addition to any other expenditure that is considered permissible under this section, a corporation may make an expenditure for the maintenance and operation of a general-purpose committee, including an expenditure for:

(1)  office space maintenance and repairs;

(2)  telephone and Internet services;

(3)  office equipment;

(4)  utilities;

(5)  general office and meeting supplies;

(6)  salaries for routine clerical, data entry, and administrative assistance necessary for the proper administrative operation of the committee;

(7)  legal and accounting fees for the committee's compliance with this title;

(8)  routine administrative expenses incurred in establishing and administering a general-purpose political committee;

(9)  management and supervision of the committee, including expenses incurred in holding meetings of the committee's governing body to interview candidates and make endorsements relating to the committee's support;

(10)  the recording of committee decisions;

(11)  expenses incurred in hosting candidate forums in which all candidates for a particular office in an election are invited to participate on the same terms; or

(12)  expenses incurred in preparing and delivering committee contributions.

(b)  A corporation may make political expenditures to finance the solicitation of political contributions to a general-purpose committee assisted under Subsection (a) from the stockholders, employees, or families of stockholders or employees of one or more corporations.

(c)  A labor organization may engage in activity authorized for a corporation by this section.  For purposes of this section, the members of a labor organization are considered to be corporate stockholders.

(d)  A corporation or labor organization may not make expenditures under this section for:

(1)  political consulting to support or oppose a candidate;

(2)  telephoning or telephone banks to communicate with the public;

(3)  brochures and direct mail supporting or opposing a candidate;

(4)  partisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives;

(5)  political fund-raising other than from its stockholders or members, as applicable, or the families of its stockholders or members;

(6)  voter identification efforts, voter lists, or voter databases that include persons other than its stockholders or members, as applicable, or the families of its stockholders or members;

(7)  polling designed to support or oppose a candidate other than of its stockholders or members, as applicable, or the families of its stockholders or members; or

(8)  recruiting candidates.

(e)  Subsection (d) does not apply to a corporation or labor organization making an expenditure to communicate with its stockholders or members, as applicable, or with the families of its stockholders or members as provided by Section 253.098.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 249, Sec. 2.26, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1306, Sec. 1, eff. June 19, 2009.



Section  253.101.  Unlawful Contribution Or Expenditure By Committee.

(a) A political committee assisted by a corporation or labor organization under Section 253.100 may not make a political contribution or political expenditure in whole or part from money that is known by a member or officer of the political committee to be dues, fees, or other money required as a condition of employment or condition of membership in a labor organization.

(b)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.102.  Coercion Prohibited.

(a) A corporation or labor organization or a political committee assisted by a corporation or labor organization under Section 253.100 commits an offense if it uses or threatens to use physical force, job discrimination, or financial reprisal to obtain money or any other thing of value to be used to influence the result of an election or to assist an officeholder.

(b)  A political committee assisted by a corporation or labor organization under Section 253.100 commits an offense if it accepts or uses money or any other thing of value that is known by a member or officer of the political committee to have been obtained in violation of Subsection (a).

(c)  An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.103.  Corporate Loans.

(a) A corporation may not make a loan to a candidate, officeholder, or political committee for campaign or officeholder purposes unless:

(1)  the corporation has been legally and continuously engaged in the business of lending money for at least one year before the loan is made; and

(2)  the loan is made in the due course of business.

(b)  This section does not apply to a loan covered by Section 253.096.

(c)  A person who violates this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.104.  Contribution To Political Party.

(a) A corporation or labor organization may make a contribution from its own property to a political party to be used as provided by Chapter 257.

(b)  A corporation or labor organization may not knowingly make a contribution authorized by Subsection (a) during a period beginning on the 60th day before the date of a general election for state and county officers and continuing through the day of the election.

(c)  A corporation or labor organization that knowingly makes a contribution in violation of this section commits an offense. An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.08, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.



Subchapter E. Civil Liability

Section  253.131.  Liability To Candidates.

(a) A person who knowingly makes or accepts a campaign contribution or makes a campaign expenditure in violation of this chapter is liable for damages as provided by this section.

(b)  If the contribution or expenditure is in support of a candidate, each opposing candidate whose name appears on the ballot is entitled to recover damages under this section.

(c)  If the contribution or expenditure is in opposition to a candidate, the candidate is entitled to recover damages under this section.

(d)  In this section, "damages" means:

(1)  twice the value of the unlawful contribution or expenditure; and

(2)  reasonable attorney's fees incurred in the suit.

(e)  Reasonable attorney's fees incurred in the suit may be awarded to the defendant if judgment is rendered in the defendant's favor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.132.  Liability To Political Committees.

(a) A corporation or labor organization that knowingly makes a campaign contribution to a political committee or a direct campaign expenditure in violation of Subchapter D is liable for damages as provided by this section to each political committee of opposing interest in the election in connection with which the contribution or expenditure is made.

(b)  In this section, "damages" means:

(1)  twice the value of the unlawful contribution or expenditure; and

(2)  reasonable attorney's fees incurred in the suit.

(c)  Reasonable attorney's fees incurred in the suit may be awarded to the defendant if judgment is rendered in the defendant's favor.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.133.  Liability To State.

A person who knowingly makes or accepts a political contribution or makes a political expenditure in violation of this chapter is liable for damages to the state in the amount of triple the value of the unlawful contribution or expenditure.

Amended by Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 899, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.



Section  253.134.  Civil Penalties Imposed By Commission.

This title does not prohibit the imposition of civil penalties by the commission in addition to criminal penalties or other sanctions imposed by law.

Added by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 304, Sec. 5.09, eff. Jan. 1, 1992.



Subchapter F. Judicial Campaign Fairness Act

Section  253.151.

  APPLICABILITY OF

Subchapter

. This subchapter applies only to a political contribution or political expenditure in connection with the office of:

(1)  chief justice or justice, supreme court;

(2)  presiding judge or judge, court of criminal appeals;

(3)  chief justice or justice, court of appeals;

(4)  district judge;

(5)  judge, statutory county court; or

(6)  judge, statutory probate court.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.152.  Definitions.

In this subchapter:

(1)  "Complying candidate" or "complying officeholder" means a judicial candidate who files a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1).

(2)  "In connection with an election" means:

(A)  with regard to a contribution that is designated in writing for a particular election, the election designated; or

(B)  with regard to a contribution that is not designated in writing for a particular election or that is designated as an officeholder contribution, the next election for that office occurring after the contribution is made.

(3)  "Judicial district" means the territory from which a judicial candidate is elected.

(4)  "Noncomplying candidate" means a judicial candidate who:

(A)  files a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2);

(B)  files a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) but later exceeds the limits on expenditures;

(C)  fails to file a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) or a declaration of intent under Section 253.164(a)(2); or

(D)  violates Section 253.173 or 253.174.

(5)  "Statewide judicial office" means the office of chief justice or justice, supreme court, or presiding judge or judge, court of criminal appeals.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.153.  Contribution Prohibited Except During Election Period.

(a) A judicial candidate or officeholder, a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate, or a specific-purpose committee for assisting a judicial officeholder may not knowingly accept a political contribution except during the period:

(1)  beginning on:

(A)  the 210th day before the date an application for a place on the ballot or for nomination by convention for the office is required to be filed, if the election is for a full term; or

(B)  the later of the 210th day before the date an application for a place on the ballot or for nomination by convention for the office is required to be filed or the date a vacancy in the office occurs, if the election is for an unexpired term; and

(2)  ending on the 120th day after the date of  the election in which the candidate or officeholder last appeared on the ballot, regardless of whether the candidate or officeholder has an opponent in that election.

(b)  Subsection (a)(2) does not apply to a political contribution that was made and accepted with the intent that it be used to defray expenses incurred in connection with an election, including the repayment of any debt that is:

(1)  incurred directly by the making of a campaign expenditure during the period beginning on the date the application for a place on the ballot or for nomination by convention was required to be filed for the election in which the candidate last appeared on the ballot and ending on the date of that election; and

(2)  subject to the restrictions prescribed by Sections 253.162 and 253.1621.

(c)  Repealed by Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1329, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2009.

(d)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of the political contributions accepted in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1329, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1329, Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2009.



Section  253.154.  Write-in Candidacy.

(a) A write-in candidate for judicial office or a specific-purpose committee for supporting a write-in candidate for judicial office may not knowingly accept a political contribution before the candidate files a declaration of write-in candidacy.

(b)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of the political contributions accepted in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.1541.  Acceptance Of Officeholder Contributions By Person Appointed To Fill Vacancy.

(a) This section applies only to a person appointed to fill a vacancy in an office covered by this subchapter who, at the time of appointment, does not hold another office covered by this subchapter.

(b)  Notwithstanding Section 253.153, a person to whom this section applies may accept officeholder contributions beginning on the date the person assumes the duties of office and ending on the 60th day after that date.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 552, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.155.  Contribution Limits.

(a) Subject to Section 253.1621, a judicial candidate or officeholder may not, except as provided by Subsection (c), knowingly accept political contributions from a person that in the aggregate exceed the limits prescribed by Subsection (b) in connection with each election in which the person is involved.

(b)  The contribution limits are:

(1)  for a statewide judicial office, $5,000; or

(2)  for any other judicial office:

(A)  $1,000, if the population of the judicial district is less than 250,000;

(B)  $2,500, if the population of the judicial district is 250,000 to one million; or

(C)  $5,000, if the population of the judicial district is more than one million.

(c)  This section does not apply to a political contribution made by a general-purpose committee.

(d)  For purposes of this section, a contribution by a law firm whose members are each members of a second law firm is considered to be a contribution by the law firm that has members other than the members the firms have in common.

(e)  A person who receives a political contribution that violates Subsection (a) shall return the contribution to the contributor not later than the later of:

(1)  the last day of the reporting period in which the contribution is received; or

(2)  the fifth day after the date the contribution is received.

(f)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of the political contributions accepted in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1096, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  253.157.  Limit On Contribution By Law Firm Or Member Or General-purpose Committee Of Law Firm.

(a) Subject to Section 253.1621, a judicial candidate or officeholder may not accept a political contribution in excess of $50 from a person if:

(1)  the person is a law firm, a member of a law firm, or a general-purpose committee established or controlled by a law firm; and

(2)  the contribution when aggregated with all political contributions accepted by the candidate or officeholder from the law firm, other members of the law firm, or a general-purpose committee established or controlled by the law firm in connection with the election would exceed six times the applicable contribution limit under Section 253.155.

(b)  A person who receives a political contribution that violates Subsection (a) shall return the contribution to the contributor not later than the later of:

(1)  the last day of the reporting period in which the contribution is received; or

(2)  the fifth day after the date the contribution is received.

(c)  A person who fails to return a political contribution as required by Subsection (b) is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the total amount of political contributions accepted from the law firm, members of the law firm, or general-purpose committees established or controlled by the law firm in connection with the election.

(d)  For purposes of this section, a general-purpose committee is established or controlled by a law firm if the committee is established or controlled by members of the law firm.

(e)  In this section:

(1)  "Law firm" means a partnership, limited liability partnership, or professional corporation organized for the practice of law.

(2)  "Member" means a partner, associate, shareholder, employee, or person designated "of counsel" or "of the firm".

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 552, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 5.16, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1096, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  253.158.  Contribution By Spouse Or Child Considered To Be Contribution By Individual.

(a) For purposes of Sections 253.155 and 253.157, a contribution by the spouse or child of an individual is considered to be a contribution by the individual.

(b)  In this section, "child" means a person under 18 years of age who is not and has not been married or who has not had the disabilities of minority removed for general purposes.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.159.  Exception To Contribution Limits.

Sections 253.155 and 253.157 do not apply to an individual who is related to the candidate or officeholder within the second degree by consanguinity, as determined under Subchapter B, Chapter 573, Government Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.160.  Aggregate Limit On Contributions From And Direct Campaign Expenditures By General-purpose Committee.

(a) Subject to Section 253.1621, a judicial candidate or officeholder may not knowingly accept a political contribution from a general-purpose committee that, when aggregated with each other political contribution from a general-purpose committee in connection with an election, exceeds 15 percent of the applicable limit on expenditures prescribed by Section 253.168, regardless of whether the limit on expenditures is suspended.

(b)  A person who receives a political contribution that violates Subsection (a) shall return the contribution to the contributor not later than the later of:

(1)  the last day of the reporting period in which the contribution is received; or

(2)  the fifth day after the date the contribution is received.

(c)  For purposes of this section, an expenditure by a general-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting a candidate, for opposing the candidate's opponent, or for assisting the candidate as an officeholder is considered to be a contribution to the candidate unless the campaign treasurer of the general-purpose committee, in an affidavit filed with the authority with whom the candidate's campaign treasurer appointment is required to be filed, states that the committee has not directly or indirectly communicated with the candidate's campaign, including the candidate, an aide to the candidate, a campaign officer, or a campaign consultant, or a specific-purpose committee in regard to a strategic matter, including polling data, advertising, or voter demographics, in connection with the candidate's campaign.

(d)  This section does not apply to a political expenditure by the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party that complies with Section 253.171(b).

(e)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount by which the political contributions accepted in violation of this section exceed the applicable limit prescribed by Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1096, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  253.1601.  Contribution To Certain Committees Considered Contribution To Candidate. For Purp

oses of Sections 253.155, 253.157, and 253.160, a contribution to a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting a judicial candidate, opposing the candidate's opponent, or assisting the candidate as an officeholder is considered to be a contribution to the candidate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Renumbered from Election Code Sec. 253.156 and amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.161.  Use Of Contribution From Nonjudicial Or Judicial Office Prohibited.

(a) A judicial candidate or officeholder, a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate, or a specific-purpose committee for assisting a judicial officeholder may not use a political contribution to make a campaign expenditure for judicial office or to make an officeholder expenditure in connection with a judicial office if the contribution was accepted while the candidate or officeholder:

(1)  was a candidate for an office other than a judicial office; or

(2)  held an office other than a judicial office, unless the person had become a candidate for judicial office.

(b)  A candidate, officeholder, or specific-purpose committee for supporting, opposing, or assisting the candidate or officeholder may not use a political contribution to make a campaign expenditure for an office other than a judicial office or to make an officeholder expenditure in connection with an office other than a judicial office if the contribution was accepted while the candidate or officeholder:

(1)  was a candidate for a judicial office; or

(2)  held a judicial office, unless the person had become a candidate for another office.

(c)  This section does not prohibit a candidate or officeholder from making a political contribution to another candidate or officeholder.

(d)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of political contributions used in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.1611.  Certain Contributions By Judicial Candidates, Officeholders, And Committees Restricted.

(a) A judicial candidate or officeholder or a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate or assisting a judicial officeholder may not use a political contribution to knowingly make political contributions that in the aggregate exceed $100 in a calendar year to a candidate or officeholder.

(b)  A judicial candidate or a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate may not use a political contribution to knowingly make political contributions to a political committee in connection with a primary election.

(c)  A judicial candidate or a specific-purpose committee for supporting or opposing a judicial candidate may not use a political contribution to knowingly make a political contribution to a political committee that, when aggregated with each other political contribution to a political committee in connection with a general election, exceeds $500.

(d)  A judicial officeholder or a specific-purpose committee for assisting a judicial officeholder may not, in any calendar year in which the office held is not on the ballot, use a political contribution to knowingly make a political contribution to a political committee that, when aggregated with each other political contribution to a political committee in that calendar year, exceeds $250.

(e)  This section does not apply to a political contribution made to the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party that:

(1)  is made in return for goods or services, including political advertising or a campaign communication, the value of which substantially equals or exceeds the amount of the contribution; or

(2)  is in an amount that is not more than the candidate's or officeholder's pro rata share of the committee's normal overhead and administrative or operating costs.

(f)  For purposes of Subsection (e)(2), a candidate's or officeholder's pro rata share of a political committee's normal overhead and administrative or operating costs is computed by dividing the committee's estimated total expenses for a period by the number of candidates and officeholders to whom the committee reasonably expects to provide goods or services during that period.

(g)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of political contributions used in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1997. Amended by Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 937, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.



Section  253.162.  Restrictions On Reimbursement Of Personal Funds And Payments On Certain Loans.

(a) Subject to Section 253.1621, a judicial candidate or officeholder who makes political expenditures from the person's personal funds may not reimburse the personal funds from political contributions in amounts that in the aggregate exceed, for each election in which the person's name appears on the ballot:

(1)  for a statewide judicial office, $100,000; or

(2)  for an office other than a statewide judicial office, five times the applicable contribution limit under Section 253.155.

(b)  A judicial candidate or officeholder who accepts one or more political contributions in the form of loans, including an extension of credit or a guarantee of a loan or extension of credit, from one or more persons related to the candidate or officeholder within the second degree by consanguinity, as determined under Subchapter B, Chapter 573, Government Code, may not use political contributions to repay the loans.

(c)  A person who is both a candidate and an officeholder may reimburse the person's personal funds only in one capacity.

(d)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount by which the reimbursement made in violation of this section exceeds the applicable limit prescribed by Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1096, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  253.1621.  Application Of Contribution And Reimbursement Limits To Certain Candidates. (a) Fo

r purposes of a contribution limit prescribed by Section 253.155, 253.157, or 253.160 and the limit on reimbursement of personal funds prescribed by Section 253.162, the general primary election and general election for state and county officers are considered to be a single election in which a judicial candidate is involved if the candidate:

(1)  is unopposed in the primary election; or

(2)  does not have an opponent in the general election whose name is to appear on the ballot.

(b)  For a candidate to whom Subsection (a) applies, each applicable contribution limit prescribed by Section 253.155, 253.157, or 253.160 is increased by 25 percent. A candidate who accepts political contributions from a person that in the aggregate exceed the applicable contribution limit prescribed by Section 253.155, 253.157, or 253.160 but that do not exceed the adjusted limit as determined under this subsecton may use the amount of those contributions that exceeds the limit prescribed by Section 253.155, 253.157, or 253.160 only for making an officeholder expenditure.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1096, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.



Section  253.163.  Notice Required For Certain Political Expenditures.

(a) A person other than a candidate, officeholder, or the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party may not make political expenditures that in the aggregate exceed $5,000 for the purpose of supporting or opposing a candidate for an office other than a statewide judicial office or assisting such a candidate as an officeholder unless the person files with the authority with whom a campaign treasurer appointment by a candidate for the office is required to be filed a written declaration of the person's intent to make expenditures that exceed the limit prescribed by this subsection.

(b)  A person other than a candidate, officeholder, or the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party may not make political expenditures that in the aggregate exceed $25,000 for the purpose of supporting or opposing a candidate for a statewide judicial office or assisting such a candidate as an officeholder unless the person files with the commission a written declaration of the person's intent to make expenditures that exceed the limit prescribed by this subsection.

(c)  A declaration under Subsection (a) or (b) must be filed not later than the earlier of:

(1)  the date the person makes the political expenditure that causes the person to exceed the limit prescribed by Subsection (a) or (b); or

(2)  the 60th day before the date of the election in connection with which the political expenditures are intended to be made.

(d)  A declaration received under Subsection (a) or (b) shall be filed with the records of each judicial candidate or officeholder on whose behalf the person filing the declaration intends to make political expenditures. If the person intends to make only political expenditures opposing a judicial candidate, the declaration shall be filed with the records of each candidate for the office.

(e)  An expenditure made by a political committee or other association that consists only of costs incurred in contacting the committee's or association's membership may be made without the declaration required by Subsection (a) or (b).

(f)  For purposes of this section, a person who makes a political expenditure benefitting more than one judicial candidate or judicial officeholder shall, in accordance with rules adopted by the commission, allocate a portion of the expenditure to each candidate or officeholder whom the expenditure benefits in proportion to the benefit received by that candidate or officeholder. For purposes of this subsection:

(1)  a political expenditure for supporting judicial candidates or assisting judicial officeholders benefits each candidate or officeholder supported or assisted; and

(2)  a political expenditure for opposing a judicial candidate benefits each opponent of the candidate.

(g)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of the political expenditures made in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.164.  Voluntary Compliance.

(a) When a person becomes a candidate for a judicial office, the person shall file with the authority with whom the candidate's campaign treasurer appointment is required to be filed:

(1)  a sworn declaration of compliance stating that the person voluntarily agrees to comply with the limits on expenditures prescribed by this subchapter; or

(2)  a written declaration of the person's intent to make expenditures that exceed the limits prescribed by this subchapter.

(b)  The limits on contributions and on reimbursement of personal funds prescribed by this subchapter apply to complying candidates unless suspended as provided by Section 253.165 or 253.170. The limits on contributions and on reimbursement of personal funds prescribed by this subchapter apply to noncomplying candidates regardless of whether the limits on contributions, expenditures, and reimbursement of personal funds are suspended for complying candidates.

(c)  A judicial candidate may not knowingly accept a campaign contribution or make or authorize a campaign expenditure before the candidate files a declaration under Subsection (a).

(d)  A person who violates Subsection (c) is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of the political contributions or political expenditures made in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.165.  Effect Of Noncomplying Candidate.

(a) A complying candidate or a specific-purpose committee for supporting a complying candidate is not required to comply with the limits on contributions, expenditures, and the reimbursement of personal funds prescribed by this subchapter if another person becomes a candidate for the same office and:

(1)  files a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2);

(2)  fails to file a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) or a declaration of intent under Section 253.164(a)(2);

(3)  files a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) but later exceeds the limits on expenditures; or

(4)  violates Section 253.173 or 253.174.

(b)  The executive director of the commission shall issue an order suspending the limits on contributions and expenditures for a specific office not later than the fifth day after the date the executive director determines that:

(1)  a person has become a candidate for that office and:

(A)  has filed a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2); or

(B)  has failed to file a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) or a declaration of intent under Section 253.164(a)(2);

(2)  a complying candidate for that office has exceeded the limit on expenditures prescribed by this subchapter; or

(3)  a candidate for that office has violated Section 253.173 or 253.174.

(c)  A county clerk who receives a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2) shall deliver a copy of the declaration to the executive director of the commission not later than the fifth day after the date the county clerk receives the declaration.

(d)  A county clerk who receives a campaign treasurer appointment in connection with a judicial office and does not receive a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) or a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2) shall deliver a copy of the campaign treasurer appointment and a written notice of the candidate's failure to file a declaration of compliance or a declaration of intent to the executive director of the commission not later than the fifth day after the date the county clerk receives the campaign treasurer appointment.

(e)  A county clerk who receives a written allegation that a complying candidate has exceeded the limit on expenditures or that a candidate has engaged in conduct prohibited by Section 253.173 or 253.174 shall deliver a copy of the allegation to the executive director of the commission not later than the fifth day after the date the county clerk receives the allegation. The county clerk shall, at no cost to the commission, deliver to the executive director by mail or telephonic facsimile machine copies of documents relevant to the allegation not later than 48 hours after the executive director requests the documents.

(f)  A county clerk is required to act under Subsection (c), (d), or (e) only in connection with an office for which a campaign treasurer appointment is required to be filed with that county clerk.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.166.  Benefit To Complying Candidate.

(a) A complying candidate is entitled to state on political advertising as provided by Section 255.008 that the candidate complies with the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act, regardless of whether the limits on contributions, expenditures, and the reimbursement of personal funds are later suspended.

(b)  A noncomplying candidate is not entitled to the benefit provided by this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.167.  Certification Of Population; Notice Of Contribution And Expenditure Limits.

(a) For purposes of this subchapter only, not later than June 1 of each odd-numbered year, the secretary of state shall:

(1)  deliver to the commission a written certification of the population of each judicial district for which a candidate for judge or justice must file a campaign treasurer appointment with the commission; and

(2)  deliver to the county clerk of each county a written certification of the county's population, if the county:

(A)  comprises an entire judicial district under Chapter 26, Government Code; or

(B)  has a statutory county court or statutory probate court, other than a multicounty statutory county court created under Subchapter D, Chapter 25, Government Code.

(b)  On receipt of the certification of population under Subsection (a), the commission or county clerk, as appropriate, shall make available to each candidate for an office covered by this subchapter written notice of the contribution and expenditure limits applicable to the office the candidate seeks.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.168.  Expenditure Limits.

(a) For each election in which the candidate is involved, a complying candidate may not knowingly make or authorize political expenditures that in the aggregate exceed:

(1)  for a statewide judicial office, $2 million;

(2)  for the office of chief justice or justice, court of appeals:

(A)  $500,000, if the population of the judicial district is more than one million; or

(B)  $350,000, if the population of the judicial district is one million or less; or

(3)  for an office other than an office covered by Subdivision (1) or (2):

(A)  $350,000, if the population of the judicial district is more than one million;

(B)  $200,000, if the population of the judicial district is 250,000 to one million; or

(C)  $100,000, if the population of the judicial district is less than 250,000.

(b)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount by which the political expenditures made in violation of this section exceed the applicable limit prescribed by Subsection (a).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 9, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.169.  Expenditure By Certain Committees Considered Expenditure By Candidate.

(a) For purposes of Section 253.168, an expenditure by a specific-purpose committee for the purpose of supporting a candidate, opposing the candidate's opponent, or assisting the candidate as an officeholder is considered to be an expenditure by the candidate unless the candidate, in an affidavit filed with the authority with whom the candidate's campaign treasurer appointment is required to be filed, states that the candidate's campaign, including the candidate, an aide to the candidate, a campaign officer, or a campaign consultant of the candidate, has not directly or indirectly communicated with the committee in regard to a strategic matter, including polling data, advertising, or voter demographics, in connection with the candidate's campaign.

(b)  This section applies only to an expenditure of which the candidate or officeholder has notice.

(c)  An affidavit under this section shall be filed with the next report the candidate or officeholder is required to file under Chapter 254 following the receipt of notice of the expenditure .

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 10, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.



Section  253.170.  Effect Of Certain Political Expenditures.

(a) A complying candidate for an office other than a statewide judicial office or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate is not required to comply with the limits on contributions, expenditures, and the reimbursement of personal funds prescribed by this subchapter if a person other than the candidate's opponent or the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party makes political expenditures that in the aggregate exceed $5,000 for the purpose of supporting the candidate's opponent, opposing the candidate, or assisting the candidate's opponent as an officeholder.

(b)  A complying candidate for a statewide judicial office or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate is not required to comply with the limits on contributions, expenditures, and the reimbursement of personal funds prescribed by this subchapter if a person other than the candidate's opponent or the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party makes political expenditures that in the aggregate exceed $25,000 for the purpose of supporting the candidate's opponent, opposing the candidate, or assisting the candidate's opponent as an officeholder.

(c)  The executive director of the commission shall issue an order suspending the limits on contributions, expenditures, and the reimbursement of personal funds for a specific office not later than the fifth day after the date the executive director determines that:

(1)  a declaration of intent to make expenditures that exceed the limit prescribed by Subsection (a) or (b) is filed in connection with the office as provided by Section 253.163; or

(2)  a political expenditure that exceeds the limit prescribed by Subsection (a) or (b) has been made.

(d)  A county clerk who receives a declaration of intent to make expenditures that exceed the limit prescribed by Subsection (a) or (b) shall deliver a copy of the declaration to the executive director of the commission not later than the fifth day after the date the county clerk receives the declaration. A county clerk who receives a written allegation that a person has made a political expenditure that exceeds the limit prescribed by Subsection (a) or (b) shall deliver a copy of the allegation to the executive director not later than the fifth day after the date the county clerk receives the allegation. The county clerk shall, at no cost to the commission, deliver to the executive director by mail or telephonic facsimile machine copies of documents relevant to the allegation not later than 48 hours after the executive director requests the documents. A county clerk is required to act under this subsection only in connection with an office for which a campaign treasurer appointment is required to be filed with that county clerk.

(e)  An expenditure made by a political committee or other association that consists only of costs incurred in contacting the committee's or association's membership does not count towards the limit prescribed by Subsection (a) or (b).

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.171.  Contribution From Or Direct Campaign Expenditure By Political Party. (a)

Except as provided by Subsection (b), a political contribution to or a direct campaign expenditure on behalf of a complying candidate that is made by the principal political committee of the state executive committee or a county executive committee of a political party is considered to be a political expenditure by the candidate for purposes of the expenditure limits prescribed by Section 253.168.

(b)  Subsection (a) does not apply to a political expenditure for a generic get-out-the-vote campaign or for a written list of two or more candidates that:

(1)  identifies the party's candidates by name and office sought, office held, or photograph;

(2)  does not include any reference to the judicial philosophy or positions on issues of the party's judicial candidates; and

(3)  is not broadcast, cablecast, published in a newspaper or magazine, or placed on a billboard.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.172.  Restriction On Exceeding Expenditure Limits.

(a) A candidate who files a declaration of compliance under Section 253.164(a)(1) and who later files a declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures under Section 253.164(a)(2) or a specific-purpose committee for supporting such a candidate may not make a political expenditure that causes the person to exceed the applicable limit on expenditures prescribed by Section 253.168 before the 60th day after the date the candidate files the declaration of intent to exceed the limits on expenditures.

(b)  A person who violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed three times the amount of political expenditures made in violation of this section.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.173.  Agreement To Evade Limits Prohibited.

(a) A complying candidate may not:

(1)  solicit a person to enter a campaign as a noncomplying candidate opposing the complying candidate; or

(2)  enter into an agreement under which a person enters a campaign as a noncomplying candidate opposing the complying candidate.

(b)  A candidate who violates this section is considered to be a noncomplying candidate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.174.

  MISREPRESENTATION OF OPPONENT'S COMPLIANCE WITH OR VIOLATION OF

Subchapter

PROHIBITED. (a) A candidate for judicial office may not knowingly misrepresent that an opponent of the candidate:

(1)  is a noncomplying candidate; or

(2)  has violated this subchapter.

(b)  A candidate who violates this section is considered to be a noncomplying candidate.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.175.  Judicial Campaign Fairness Fund.

(a) The judicial campaign fairness fund is a special account in the general revenue fund.

(b)  The judicial campaign fairness fund consists of:

(1)  penalties recovered under Section 253.176; and

(2)  any gifts or grants received by the commission under Subsection (e).

(c)  The judicial campaign fairness fund may be used only for:

(1)  voter education projects that relate to judicial campaigns; and

(2)  payment of costs incurred in imposing civil penalties under this subchapter.

(d)  To the extent practicable, the fund shall be permitted to accumulate until the balance is sufficient to permit the publication of a voter's guide that lists candidates for judicial office, their backgrounds, and similar information. The commission shall implement this subsection and shall adopt rules under which a candidate must provide information to the commission for inclusion in the voter's guide. In providing the information, the candidate shall comply with applicable provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct. The voter's guide must, to the extent practicable, indicate whether each candidate is a complying candidate or noncomplying candidate, based on declarations filed under Section 253.164 or determinations by the executive director or the county clerk, as appropriate, under Section 253.165. The listing of a noncomplying candidate may not include any information other than the candidate's name and must include a statement that the candidate is not entitled to have complete information about the candidate included in the guide.

(e)  The commission may accept gifts and grants for the purposes described by Subsections (c)(1) and (d). Funds received under this subsection shall be deposited to the credit of the judicial campaign fairness fund.

(f)  The judicial campaign fairness fund is exempt from Sections 403.094 and 403.095, Government Code.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.



Section  253.176.  Civil Penalty.

(a) The commission may impose a civil penalty against a person only after a formal hearing as provided by Subchapter E, Chapter 571, Government Code.

(b)  The commission shall base the amount of the penalty on:

(1)  the seriousness of the violation;

(2)  the history of previous violations;

(3)  the amount necessary to deter future violations; and

(4)  any other matter that justice may require.

(c)  A penalty collected under this section shall be deposited to the credit of the judicial campaign fairness fund.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 763, Sec. 1, eff. June 16, 1995.


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